studyNew research from the American Journal of Public Health (AJPH) finds that harmful advertisements that could negatively impact health are disproportionately present in non-white, lower-income communities.

Alcohol, tobacco, unhealthy eating

Researchers photographed outdoor advertising signs in seven Los Angeles sites of varying socioeconomic status, racial and ethnic makeup and income levels. Harmful advertising was classified into five categories:

  • addictive behaviors like alcohol and tobacco use
  • violence
  • unhealthy eating
  • unsafe environments for women, and
  • content inappropriate for children

Results indicated that in a neighborhood with a majority of Asian American residents, 44 percent of outdoor advertisements contained harmful material, the greatest out of any other area. Further, a community with income insecurity, education risk, a large number of youths and other risks, contained advertisements where 35.4 percent were unhealthy ads.

An environmental "riskscape"

“Individuals who are continually confined – physically, financially or socially – to harmful environments are at increased risk for functional decline and accelerated mortality. In this way, outdoor advertising becomes a component of a localized environmental riskscape, a factor among many that adversely impacts human health and well-being,” the researchers conclude.

The article is: “The Prevalence of Harmful Content on Outdoor Advertising in Los Angeles: Land Use, Community Characteristics, and the Spatial Inequality of a Public Health Nuisance," Sol Price School of Public Policy, University of Southern California, Los Angeles,