Magazines aimed at Hispanics and African Americans have more ads for unhealthy products, such as cigarettes and alcohol, compared with publications aimed at white women, and fewer pages devoted to health-promoting ads, according to a study published in the Journal of BMC Public Health. Magazines aimed at Hispanics have fewer pages devoted to health promoting ads and more ads for unhealthy products, such as cigarettes and alcohol, compared with publications aimed at white women, according to a study published in the BMC Public Health Journal.
The content of advertisements in Latino magazines may contribute to the lower health status observed in the Hispanic population. The researchers found a lack of pharmaceutical ads in black and Hispanic magazines for conditions that affect a significant number of these readers, including hypertension and diabetes.
A comparison of a dozen magazines targeted at white, black and Hispanic readers found that black and Hispanic publications carried twice as many ads for unhealthy products as mainstream magazines aimed predominantly at white women, investigators reported today in the journal BMC Public Health.
The study compared the four top-selling general interest mainstream magazines with primarily Caucasian audiences, Family Circle, Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, and Woman's Day, with the top four magazines for blacks, Ebony, Essence, Heart and Soul, and Upscale. The top four Hispanic publications were Latina, Latina Style, Cristina, and Vanidades. The publications appeared in June, July, and August 2002. During that three-month period, because of various publication schedules, there were 12 issues of the mainstream magazines, 10 issues of African-American magazines, and 14 issues of the Hispanic publications.
Ads in the mainstream publications with an unhealthy impact came to 17.4%, vs. 30% in magazines for African-Americans and 39.1% in those for Hispanics, said Susan C. Duerksen, M.P.H., of San Diego State University. Susan Duerksen, Georgia Robins Sadler and colleagues, from the Rebecca and John Moores UCSD Cancer Center in San Diego, USA, tested whether the disparities in health status among different ethnic groups were reflected in the amount of health-related advertisement in lay magazines aimed at white, black or Latino women.
"To the extent that individual levels of health education and awareness can be influenced by advertising variations in the quantity, quality and content of health-related information among magazines read by different ethnic groups may contribute to racial disparities in health behaviors and health status," said the investigators.
The researchers added that multiple surveys have shown lay magazines to be "one key source of health information for women," so these findings may be important.
They reported that magazines aimed at black and Hispanic audiences featured far more ads for unhealthy foods, cigarettes, and alcohol and fewer ads for vitamins, weight-loss products, sun protection, smoking and drug-abuse prevention, and prescription drug treatments.
For example, the researchers found a lack of pharmaceutical ads in black and Hispanic magazines for conditions that affect a significant number of these readers, including hypertension and diabetes. Ads for birth control products, HIV medications and Viagra (sildenafil) appeared in the African-American magazines, although not in those for whites or Hispanics.
None of the magazines featured information about clinical trial participation, a lost opportunity, according to the researchers.
Overall, half of all the ads in the white-audience magazines were health-related, more than double the number featured in those for blacks and Hispanics.
Reviewing the ads by category, the investigators counted 65 ads for prescription drugs in mainstream magazines, but only 20 in the blacks' magazines and just one such ad in the Hispanic publications.
Similar proportions were seen for over-the-counter products, such as drugs and vitamins. The research team counted 121 OTC ads in the white-oriented magazines, but only 25 such ads in the magazines for blacks and 22 ads in the Hispanic magazines.
White-oriented magazines featured slightly more ads for cigarettes, 15 ads versus 11 ads in black publications and 12 ads in Hispanic publications. However, smoking and drug-abuse prevention ads in the mainstream magazines outnumbered their own cigarette ads and also those featured in the other publications, 18 versus four (black) and six (Hispanic).
There were no ads for alcohol in the magazines for whites, whereas those for blacks featured 12 alcohol ads and those for the Hispanics, three.
Similar findings surfaced for food. Ads for healthy or low-calorie foods and beverages accounted for nearly a third of all food and beverage ads in all three categories. Healthy foods ads included ads for 100% fruit juice, soy milk, fruits, vegetables, non-chocolate granola bars, baked beans, plain bread, veggie burgers, tea, water, and plain coffee.
However, black and Hispanic magazines had more ads for "unhealthy foods," such as ice cream, high-fat snacks, fast foods, and non-diet soda. Fifty-two percent of the food and beverage ads in the Hispanic magazines were for unhealthy foods compared with 32% in black magazines and 29% in those for whites.