Soft drink makers target children and teens: study

Mon Oct 31, 2011 1:14am EDT
 
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By Martinne Geller

(Reuters) - U.S. children and teenagers are seeing far more soda advertising than before, with blacks and Hispanics being major targets, as marketers have expanded online, a study released on Monday found.

The report, from the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, also found that many fruit drinks and energy drinks, popular with teenagers, have as much added sugar and calories as full-calorie soda.

Children's and teens' exposure to full-calorie soda ads on television doubled from 2008 to 2010, the report found, fueled by increases from Coca-Cola Co and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc.

Children were exposed to 22 percent fewer ads for PepsiCo Inc sugary drinks, it found.

Black children and teens saw 80 to 90 percent more ads than white children, including twice as many for the energy drink 5-Hour Energy and Coca-Cola's vitamin water and Sprite.

Over the same period, Hispanic children saw 49 percent more ads for sugary drinks and energy drinks on Spanish-language television, and Hispanic teens saw 99 percent more ads.

"Our children are being assaulted by these drinks that are high in sugar and low in nutrition," said Yale's Kelly Brownell, co-author of the report. "The companies are marketing them in highly aggressive ways."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about 15 percent of children are overweight or obese. Children today are likely to have shorter life spans than their parents, which will affect their ability to work and pay taxes, while threatening to drive up healthcare costs.   Continued...