First, let’s establish the facts. Are sugary drinks bad for you? If you listen to the American Beverage Association, maybe not. WebMD straddles the line, laying out both sides. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a consumer health advocacy group, says yes, and lays out the reasons why, including the fact that carbonated soft drinks
… pose health risks both because of what they contain (extra calories, sugar, and various additives) and what they replace in the diet (beverages and foods that provide vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients).
If you come down on the side of the public health advocates — whose mission it is to protect and advocate for people’s good health, not to make money by selling to kids — then the recent Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity report will worry you. It exposes the “massive” sugary drink advertising kids are exposed to, and reveals that
There is clear targeting of sugary drink marketing to young people, especially black and Hispanic youth. Higher exposure to sugary drink marketing is significantly associated with higher consumption of these products.
Companies are targeting black and Hispanic children and teens.
• Beverage companies have indicated that they view Hispanics and blacks as a source of future growth for sugary drink product sales.
• Black children and teens saw 80 percent to 90 percent more ads
compared with white youth, including more than twice as many ads for Sprite, Mountain Dew, 5-hour Energy, and Vitamin Water.
• Marketing on Spanish-language TV is growing. From 2008 to 2010, Hispanic children saw 49 percent more ads for sugary drinks and energy drinks, and teens saw 99 percent more ads.
• Hispanic preschoolers saw more ads for Coca-Cola Classic, Kool-Aid, 7 Up and Sunny D than Hispanic older children and teens did.
The report’s recommendation?
The young people that companies view as an opportunity to grow their business are also the first generation expected to live shorter lives than their parents due to obesity and related diseases.
If beverage companies want to be part of the solution to the obesity crisis, they must do more to protect children and teens from marketing for sugary drinks and energy drinks.
[Bold emphasis ours]
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