Perceptions of the food marketing environment among African American teen girls and adults

Wendy S. Bibeau, Brit I. Saksvig, Joel Gittelsohn, Sonja Williams, Lindsey Jones, Deborah Rohm Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Obesity disproportionately affects African American adolescents, particularly girls. While ethnically targeted marketing of unhealthful food products contributes to this disparity, it is not known how African Americans perceive the food marketing environment in their communities. Qualitative methods, specifically photovoice and group discussions, were used to understand perceptions of African American adults and teen girls regarding targeted food marketing to adolescent girls. An advisory committee of four students, two faculty, and two parents was formed, who recruited peers to photograph their environments and participate in group discussions to answer " what influences teen girls to eat what they do." Seven adults and nine teens (all female) participated in the study. Discussions were transcribed, coded, and analyzed with ATLAS.ti to identify common and disparate themes among participants. Results indicated that adults and teens perceived the type of food products, availability of foods, and price to influence the girls' choices. The girls spoke about products that were highly convenient and tasty as being particularly attractive. The adults reported that advertisements and insufficient nutrition education were also influencers. The teens discussed that the places in which food products were available influenced their choices. Results suggest that the marketing of highly available, convenient food at low prices sell products to teen girls. Future work is needed to better understand the consumer's perspective on the food and beverage marketing strategies used.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)396-399
Number of pages4
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2012


  • African American
  • Environment
  • Food
  • Obesity
  • Targeted marketing
  • Teenage girls

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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