A recent study has reportedly concluded that while fewer food advertisements overall are shown during U.S. Spanish-language children’s TV programs than during similar English-language programs, “the nutritional quality of food products on Spanish-language channels was substantially poorer than on English channels.” Dale Kunkel, et al., “Food Marketing to Children on U.S. Spanish-Language Television,” Journal of Health Communications, May 2013. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), the study analyzed 158 Spanish-language children’s programs “for [their] advertising content and compared them with an equivalent sample of English-language advertising.” Researchers also evaluated the nutritional quality of the advertised products using a rating system developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) that divides foods into three categories: Go (foods that are “rich in nutrients and relatively low in calories”), Slow (foods that are “higher in fat, added sugar and calories than Go foods”) and Whoa (foods that are “high in calories and low in nutrients”).

According to a May 2, 2013, RWJF press release, the results indicated that approximately 84 percent of child-direct ads aired during Spanish shows and approximately 72 percent aired during English shows “promoted Whoa products, such as candy, sugary cereals, fries, and sodas, which fall into the poorest nutritional category as defined by DHHS.” In addition, the study asserts that even among companies adhering to self-regulatory marketing pledges, “78 percent of ads for children on Spanish-language television and 69 percent of ads for children on English-language television were for unhealthy foods or drinks.”

“The large majority of added were in this whoa category,” said Kunkel. “It’s still outrageously high on English channels, but we concede that food marketing on Spanish channels is especially problematic.” See NBC Latino, May 6, 2013.