Sugary Drink Makers Target Kids

November 4, 2011 by staff 

Sugary Drink Makers Target Kids, A new report says that manufacturers of sugar-laden beverages such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks directly target children, especially black and Hispanic children in their marketing campaigns.
Despite promises to improve their marketing practices, these companies are using tactics such as the reward for the purchase of sugary drinks, community events, cause-related marketing, promotions and product placement in media, according to Yale researchers Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. The findings are expected to be presented Monday at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in Washington, DC

“We found that exposure of children to television commercials full calorie soda doubled from 2008 to 2010,” said Jennifer Harris, author of the report and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, during a press conference tomorrow . “We also found that energy drinks are very much aimed at children and adolescents.”

Companies are reaching children, not only by direct mail, but through product placement in prime time television, Internet and Facebook, said Harris.

Not only manufacturers of drinks for children, but also make health claims even though their products contain sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine, said Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Center. Many parents believe that sports drinks and sweetened fruit juices are good for their children, he said, and “also believe that the nutrient demands on vitamin C and real and natural ingredients, and interpret the meaning of these products are healthy choices. ”

“One of the things we were surprised to learn that some of these products for children contain artificial sweeteners and sugar,” he said.

To reach these conclusions, the authors studied the marketing strategies of 14 companies and over 600 products.

Highlights of the report include:

• Many fruit drinks and energy drinks contain sugar and calories as well as total calorie soft drinks.

• Forty percent of the children’s fruit drinks containing artificial sweeteners.

• More than half of sugary drinks and energy drinks that nutrient-related claims on their packages. Sixty-four percent said to contain “all natural” or “real” ingredients.

• Energy drinks are not suitable for children and adolescents, but they are marketed to them. In 2010, 18 teenagers were exposed to television commercials percent and 46 percent more radio ads for energy drinks than adults. In 2010, youth saw 20 percent more television ads for energy drinks than they did in 2008.

• Although the industry has promised not to market unhealthy drinks for children, exposure to TV ads to every calorie soft drinks doubled from 2008 to 2010.

• Companies targeting black and Hispanic children and adolescents. Black children and teenagers saw the ads of 90 percent compared with whites. Between 2008 and 2010, Hispanic children in Spanish watch TV ads was 49 percent more sugary drinks and energy drinks, and Hispanic teens were 99 percent ad more.

Reacting to the report, Susan K. Neely, president and CEO of the American Beverage Association, said in a statement that “the people of our partners – many of whom are parents – they are fulfilling their commitment to announce only water, juice and milk in programming for Children under 12 years. ”

“In fact, recent research supports that there has been a dramatic change in the food and beverage advertising during children’s programming, with the advertising of soft drinks decreased by 96 percent between 2004 and 2010 alone,” he said. “This report is a new attack known critics in an ongoing effort to designate a product as the cause of obesity when common sense and science have proven widely accepted that the reality is much more complicated.”

Samantha Heller, coordinator of clinical nutrition at the Center for Cancer Care at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut, said that “the Rudd Center study quantifies what most of us already know: that children are drinking too much sugar, however, the results are disturbing. and disturbing. ”

Parents need to be educated that soda, energy drinks and fruit drinks are not healthy for children or teenagers said Heller. “They are not healthy for anyone, really,” he said. “Food companies have to devote some resources not only to change its marketing practices, but also to reformulate at least some of their products to make them healthier.”

Meanwhile, parents have to stop bringing sugary drinks at home, said Heller. “There is no need for a small soda or fruit drinks. They will be very happy with water or low fat milk or soy milk if that’s what they’re used to,” he said. “And while their teens complain that there are no more or soft fruit drinks in the house, get used to it.”

Because these findings were presented at a medical meeting, the data and conclusions should be considered preliminary until published in a peer reviewed journal.

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