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The impact of racially-targeted food marketing and attentional biases on consumption in Black adolescent females with and without obesity: Pilot data from the Black Adolescent & Entertainment (BAE) study

Cassidy, Omni; Tanofsky-Kraff, Marian; Waters, Andrew J; Shank, Lisa M; Pine, Abigail; Quattlebaum, Mary; DeLeon, Patrick H; Bragg, Marie; Sbrocco, Tracy
Unhealthy food advertisements ("advertisements" hereafter referred to as "ads") are linked to poor diet and obesity, and food companies disproportionally target Black youth. Little is known about the mechanisms whereby food ads influence diet. One possibility may be racially-targeted ads that appeal to Black youth. Those with food-related attentional biases may be especially vulnerable. The objective of this project was to assess the feasibility and initial effects of a pilot study testing the influence of racially-targeted food ads and food-related attentional biases on eating behaviors among a sample of Black adolescent females. Feasibility of recruitment, retention, and procedures were examined. Participants (N = 41, 12-17y) were randomized to view a television episode clip of the Big Bang Theory embedded with either four 30-second racially-targeted food ads or neutral ads. A computer dot probe task assessed food-related attentional biases. The primary outcome was caloric consumption from a laboratory test meal. Interactions based on weight and ethnic identity were also examined. Analyses of variance and regressions were used to assess main and interaction effects. Exposure to racially-targeted food ads (versus neutral ads) did not affect energy consumption (p > .99). Although not statistically significant, adolescents with obesity consumed nearly 240 kcal more than non-overweight adolescents (p = 0.10). There were no significant preliminary effects related to food-related attentional biases or ethnic identity (ps = 0.22-0.79). Despite a non-significant interaction, these data provide preliminary support that adolescents with obesity may be particularly vulnerable to racially-targeted food ads. An adequately powered trial is necessary to further elucidate the associations among racially-targeted food ads among Black adolescent girls with obesity.
PMID: 36662840
ISSN: 1932-6203
CID: 5419292

Food and Beverage Product Appearances in Educational, Child-Targeted YouTube Videos

Tsai, Krystle A; Pan, Pamela; Liang, Cheryl; Stent-Torriani, Anastassia; Prat, Lulu; Cassidy, Omni; Pomeranz, Jennifer L; Bragg, Marie A
PMID: 35263190
ISSN: 2153-2176
CID: 5183572

COVID-washing in U.S. food and beverage marketing on Twitter: A content analysis

Tsai, Krystle A; Cassidy, Omni L; Arshonsky, Josh; Bond, Sara; Giudice, Ines Del; Bragg, Marie A
BACKGROUND:Food companies have increased digital and social media ad expenditures during the COVID-19 pandemic, capitalizing on the coinciding increase in social media usage during the pandemic. The extent of pandemic-related social media advertising and marketing tactics have been previously reported. No studies, however, have evaluated how food and beverage companies used COVID-washing on social media posts in the U.S. or analyzed the nutritional content of advertised food and beverage products. This study was designed to address these gaps by evaluating how food and beverage companies capitalize on the COVID-19 pandemic to promote unhealthy foods and sugary beverages. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to (1) document the types and frequencies of COVID-19-related themes in U.S. food and beverage companies' Twitter posts during the first wave of the pandemic in the U.S., and (2) assess the nutritional quality of food and beverage products featured in these tweets. METHODS:Research assistants visited the Twitter accounts of the most-marketed food and beverage brands, and screen-captured all tweets posted between March 1 - May 31, 2020. Researchers documented the date of the tweet, number of likes, views, comments, and "retweets", and type of food and beverage products. We coded tweets for the following ten COVID-19 themes: (1) social distancing/staying home/working remotely; (2) contactless delivery/pick-up; (3) hand-washing/sanitizing; (4) masks; (5) safety/protection; (6) staying connected with others; (7) staying active; (8) frontline/essential workers; (9) monetary relief/donations/unemployment; (10) pandemic/unprecedented/difficult times. Researchers calculated the Nutrient Profile Index scores for featured foods and sorted beverages into categories based on sugar content. RESULTS:Our final sample included 874 COVID-19-themed tweets from 52 food and beverage brands. Social distancing themes appeared most frequently (42.0%), followed by pandemic/unprecedented/difficult times (28.2%), and contactless delivery (27.1%). The majority of tweets (77.6%) promoted foods and beverages. Among those tweets featuring foods and beverages, 89.6% promoted unhealthy products, whereas 17.2% promoted healthy products. CONCLUSIONS:Our findings point to a concerning marketing tactic in which major food and beverage companies promote unhealthy foods and sugary beverages during the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that nutrition-related diseases such as obesity and diabetes are risk factors for COVID-19 morbidity and mortality, food and beverage companies should reduce promotion of unhealthy products to help decrease the prevalence of health conditions that place people at higher risk for severe illness and death due to COVID-19. CLINICALTRIAL/BACKGROUND/:
PMID: 36040957
ISSN: 2561-326x
CID: 5337642

A Qualitative Analysis of Black and White Adolescents' Perceptions of and Responses to Racially Targeted Food and Drink Commercials on Television

Miller, Alysa; Cassidy, Omni; Greene, Tenay; Arshonsky, Josh; Albert, Stephanie L; Bragg, Marie A
Food and beverage marketing is a major driver of childhood obesity, and companies target their least nutritious products to Black youth. However, little is known about adolescents' perceptions of and responses to racially targeted food marketing. In this qualitative study, we investigated how Black and White adolescents perceived and responded to racially targeted television commercials for food and beverages. We recruited 39 adolescents aged 12-17 years in New York City to watch a series of commercials and then participate in an in-depth interview using a semi-structured interview guide. The research team recorded, transcribed, and analyzed interviews using ATLAS.ti. Overall, participants responded positively to commercials that featured celebrities. They were also able to recognize the commercials and reported they had been exposed to marketing from these companies on social media and in subways/buses. Many participants considered the advertised brands as healthy or able to enhance athletic performance because of their endorsement by or association with athletes. Participants also understood that marketers were using racial targeting in their ads but that targeting did not translate into improved perceptions or responses towards advertised products. These findings suggest the need to empirically evaluate and further explore Black and White adolescents' responses to racially targeted food marketing.
PMID: 34770078
ISSN: 1660-4601
CID: 5048752

Social Media Accounts of Food and Beverage Brands Have Disproportionately More Black and Hispanic Followers than White Followers

Rummo, Pasquale E; Arshonsky, Josh H; Sharkey, Andrea L; Cassidy, Omni L; Bragg, Marie A
PMID: 34235366
ISSN: 2473-1242
CID: 4932192

Comparing McDonald's food marketing practices on official Instagram accounts across 15 countries

Cassidy, Omni; Shin, Hye Won; Song, Edmund; Jiang, Everett; Harri, Ravindra; Cano, Catherine; Vedanthan, Rajesh; Ogedegbe, Gbenga; Bragg, Marie
Background/UNASSIGNED:Social media advertising by fast food companies continues to increase globally, and exposure to food advertising contributes to poor diet and negative health outcomes (eg, cardiovascular disease). McDonald's-the largest fast food company in the world-operates in 101 countries, but little is known about their marketing techniques in various regions. The objective of this study was to compare the social media advertising practices of McDonald's-the largest fast food company in the world-in 15 high-income, upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income countries. Methods/UNASSIGNED:We randomly selected official McDonald's Instagram accounts for 15 high-income, upper-middle-income and lower-middle-income countries. We captured all the screenshots that McDonald's posted on those Instagram accounts from September to December 2019. We quantified the number of followers, 'likes', 'comments' and video views associated with each account in April 2020. We used content analysis to examine differences in the marketing techniques. Results/UNASSIGNED:The 15 accounts collectively maintained 10 million followers and generated 3.9 million 'likes', 164 816 comments and 38.2 million video views. We identified 849 posts. The three lower-middle-income countries had more posts (n=324; M, SD=108.0, 38.2 posts) than the five upper-middle-income countries (n=227; M, SD=45.4, 37.5 posts) and seven high-income countries (n=298; M, SD=42.6, 28.2 posts). Approximately 12% of the posts in high-income countries included child-targeted themes compared with 22% in lower-middle-income countries. Fourteen per cent of the posts in high-income countries included price promotions and free giveaways compared with 40% in lower-middle-income countries. Conclusions/UNASSIGNED:Social media advertising has enabled McDonald's to reach millions of consumers in lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries with disproportionately greater child-targeted ads and price promotions in lower-middle-income countries. Such reach is concerning because of the increased risk of diet-related illnesses, including cardiovascular disease, in these regions.
PMID: 35028520
ISSN: 2516-5542
CID: 5119122

Child Social Media Influencers and Unhealthy Food Product Placement

Alruwaily, Amaal; Mangold, Chelsea; Greene, Tenay; Arshonsky, Josh; Cassidy, Omni; Pomeranz, Jennifer L; Bragg, Marie
OBJECTIVES:We aimed to determine the frequency with which kid influencers promote branded and unbranded food and drinks during their YouTube videos and assess the nutritional quality of food and drinks shown. METHODS:Researchers used Socialbakers data to identify the 5 most-watched kid influencers (ages 3 to 14 years) on YouTube in 2019. We searched for 50 of their most-watched videos and 50 of their videos that featured food and/or drinks on the thumbnail image of the video. We coded whether kid influencers consumed or played with food or toys, quantified the number of minutes food and/or drinks appeared, and recorded names of branded food and/or drinks. We assessed the nutritional quality of foods using the Nutrient Profile Model and identified the number of drinks with added sugar. RESULTS:= 7; 2.4%; eg, Yoplait yogurt). CONCLUSIONS:Kid influencers generate millions of impressions for unhealthy food and drink brands through product placement. The Federal Trade Commission should strengthen regulations regarding product placement on YouTube videos featuring young children.
PMID: 33106342
ISSN: 1098-4275
CID: 4940862

Examining the Relationship between Youth-Targeted Food Marketing Expenditures and the Demographics of Social Media Followers

Rummo, Pasquale E; Cassidy, Omni; Wells, Ingrid; Coffino, Jaime A; Bragg, Marie A
: Background: To determine how many adolescents follow food/beverage brands on Instagram and Twitter, and examine associations between brands' youth-targeted marketing practices and percentages of adolescent followers.
PMID: 32138342
ISSN: 1660-4601
CID: 4339872

Insulin Sensitivity, Depression/Anxiety, and Physical Fitness in At-Risk Adolescents

Bruggink, Stephanie M; Shomaker, Lauren Berger; Kelly, Nichole R; Drinkard, Bart E; Chen, Kong Y; Brychta, Robert J; Cassidy, Omni; Demidowich, Andrew P; Brady, Sheila M; Tanofsky-Kraff, Marian; Yanovski, Jack A
Poor physical fitness contributes to the early progression of cardiometabolic disease, yet the physiological and psychological factors underpinning poor fitness in at-risk adolescents are not well understood. In this study, we sought to determine the relationship of physical fitness with two developmental phenomena of adolescence, insulin resistance and depression/anxiety symptoms among at-risk youth. We conducted secondary data analyses of 241 overweight or obese adolescents (12-17 years), drawn from two study cohorts. Insulin sensitivity index was derived from oral glucose tolerance tests. Adolescents self-reported depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms on validated surveys. A walk/run test was administered to determine perceived exertion and physical fitness (distance traveled). Insulin sensitivity was positively associated with walk/run distance ( b =0.16, P< 0.01), even after accounting for all covariates. Anxiety symptoms were inversely related to perceived exertion ( b =-0.11, P< 0.05), adjusting for covariates. These findings suggest that insulin resistance and anxiety symptoms are associated with different dimensions of physical fitness in overweight or obese adolescents and could both potentially contribute to declining fitness and worsening metabolic outcomes in at-risk youth.
PMID: 31214645
ISSN: 2367-1890
CID: 4940852

Pediatric Loss-of-Control Eating and Anxiety in Relation to Components of Metabolic Syndrome

Byrne, Meghan E; Tanofsky-Kraff, Marian; Kelly, Nichole M; Grammer, Anne Claire; Jaramillo, Manuela; Mi, Sarah J; Stojek, Monika M; Shank, Lisa M; Burke, Natasha L; Cassidy, Omni; Schvey, Natasha A; Brady, Sheila M; Demidowich, Andrew P; Broadney, Miranda M; Yanovski, Susan Z; Yanovski, Jack A
Objective:Pediatric loss-of-control (LOC) eating is associated with, and predictive of, gains in adiposity and adverse metabolic outcomes. In addition, some preliminary data suggest that anxiety may exacerbate the relationship of LOC eating with weight and metabolic syndrome (MetS)-related measures. We therefore examined whether anxiety moderated the relationship between LOC eating and body mass index z (BMIz), adiposity, and MetS-related measures in youth. Methods:A convenience sample of non-treatment-seeking boys and girls of varying weight strata were interviewed to determine the presence of LOC eating and completed a questionnaire assessing trait anxiety. BMIz and MetS-related measures (blood pressure, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, glucose, and insulin) were measured after an overnight fast. Adiposity was assessed by air displacement plethysmography or dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Analyses adjusted for age, sex, race, height, fat mass, and depressive symptoms, as appropriate. Results:In all, 379 youths (13.0 ± 2.8 years; 53% female; BMIz = 0.8 ± 1.1; 22% with LOC eating) were studied. Anxiety was not significantly related to BMIz, adiposity, or MetS-related measures. However, anxiety and LOC eating interacted such that only among youth with LOC eating, anxiety was positively associated with fasting insulin (p = .02) and insulin resistance (p = .01). The interaction of anxiety and LOC eating was not significantly related to BMIz, adiposity, or any other MetS-related measure (ps = ns). Conclusions:Only among non-treatment-seeking youth with LOC eating, anxiety may be associated with increased insulin secretion and insulin resistance. Longitudinal studies are required to confirm these findings and explore mechanisms for these relationships.
PMID: 30339233
ISSN: 1465-735x
CID: 4940842