Sugary Drink Marketing

November 1, 2011 by staff 

Sugary Drink Marketing, The children of today will be the first generation in American history to lead shorter lives than their parents. There are several contributors to this faint image, but obesity tops the list.

Many things are being done to help prevent obesity in children and adolescents. One of the most visible is the effort by cities, states and even entire countries to make war on added sugar drinks. What was once a simple landscape with only a few flagship drink Coca-Cola, Pepsi and 7-Up has been transformed into entirely new categories of beverages with sugar – sweetened teas, vitamin waters, sports drinks and energy drinks are some examples. Together, these drinks are known as soft drinks, soft drinks, pop drinks, sweetened with sugar and sugary drinks – all terms that refer to beverages high in sugar and nutrition that contains little or nothing. In the 1990s, consumption of sugared beverages surpassed milk consumption in the U.S., a trend that makes health experts shudder.

There is a long list of reasons why these drinks are bad actors:

They are the largest source of sugar in the American diet and add little or no nutrition.
The body does not seem to recognize calories very well when delivered in liquids, therefore, sugary drinks are to fool the body’s feelings of fullness.
There is clear evidence linking the consumption of these drinks with a high risk for obesity and diabetes.
It is not mass marketing.
The health implications of consumption of sugary drinks are well known. Not surprisingly, therefore, that groups like the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, the Institute of Medicine, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other groups have said that consumption is too high and must come down.

What has been missing in this picture is a detailedanlysis of how the industry markets these products to the most vulnerable segment of our population: children. It is important to know in order to help establish the government’s policies on whether children should be protected from this influence, and also check if the industry sticks to its promises least market this age group.

The beverage industry, dominated by Coca-Cola and PepsiCo, is represented by a trade association called the American Beverage Association (ABA). The beverage companies have made a series of promises that will market less children. Coca-Cola, for example, states that “… not anywhere on the marketing of [his] mark in television, radio and print program is primarily directed to children under 12 years old .. . ” Some industry critics believe that the main purpose of these promises is public trust in court and convince lawmakers that government intervention is not necessary. Factual information is needed to see if the promises of the industry are maintained and if, in fact, children are exposed to less than the marketing of products that can cause harm.

Our group at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University, has just published the most comprehensiveanlysis ever of the marketing of sugary drinks to children and adolescents. This new report found that children are exposed to more – not less – the advertising of sugary drinks than they were several years ago, and that companies are finding new ways to reach sophisticated youth.

Our study looked at 14 companies examined beverage and nutritional quality of some 600 products, including full calorie soda, energy drinks, fruit drinks, flavored waters, sports drinks and iced tea and diet drinks and beverages children the energy and fruit diet. Some of the key findings:

Companies have moved from traditional media such as television commercials for new ways to involve youth, often without the knowledge of their parents, through rewards for the purchase of sugary drinks, community events, marketing cause, promotions, product placement, social media, and smartphones.
Companies package their products so you can make it difficult for parents and children to decipher what is actually in the product. Fruit drink, packages, for example, often have pictures of real fruit, even though these drinks contain no more than 5 percent real fruit juice. Many parents and children are aware that fruit drinks can be as high in calories and sugar as soda.
More than half of all sugary drinks and energy drinks boast of having the positive ingredients on their packages. Sixty-four percent have “all natural” or “real” ingredients, sometimes “real” sugar. Parents can see these products as healthier than they really are.
Two thirds of the marks appear on prime-time programming through product placement for a total of nearly 2,000 appearances in 2010. Classic Coca-Cola accounted for three quarters of brand appearances seen by children.
Children target companies in new and innovative ways, but still sugary drinks heavily promoted to young people in television and radio, despite the promises of the industry. We found that from 2008 to 2010, children and adolescents’ exposure to ads for soda full of calories on television doubled. This increase was driven by the Coca-Cola and Dr. Pepper Snapple groups.
There is no doubt that children and teenagers need protection from the dominant and ubiquitous marketing products companies known to increase the risk of obesity and diabetes. Industry Promise to behave better seems empty when the evidence shows that children are being exposed to further promotional messages of high sugar drinks. [Editor's note:. The American Beverage Association has responded to the survey on its website]

What can be done? Federal agencies like the Federal Trade Commission and the Food and Drug Administration has the ability to intervene to help corral the marketing and labeling practices, but there must be political will. There are positive signs that this is happening, but the action will be accelerated by public demand for change. Parents, health professionals, and any interested citizen may write or call the local, state and national elected officials asking them to do something. In addition, state attorneys general have the authority to deal with marketing practices and have shown a growing interest in issues such as childhood obesity.

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