Daily Pulse

Kids targeted by sugary drink ads

David Brancaccio Oct 31, 2011

A new study out from Yale’s Rudd Center shows that children and teens are more exposed to ads for high-calorie soda drinks than ever before.

The concern is with childhood obesity. More ads, means more consumption, which leads to more health problems. These signs that more kids are being exposed to empty calories has the Marketplace Daily Pulse pumping a bit more slowly today.

The full report (PDF) has a number of startling statistics. For example, in 2010, black children and teens saw as many as 90 percent more ads for sugary drinks, than white children.

In 2010, teens saw 18 percent more TV ads, and heard 46 percent more radio ads, for energy drinks than adults did. Teens also saw 20 percent more TV ads for energy drinks in 2010 than they saw in 2008.

A co-author of the report sees this as “aggressive” marketing. The beverage industry says it’s been working hard to keep TV advertising for under-12s focused on water, juice, and milk.

Here are some key findings from the report:

From 2008 to 2010, children’s and teens’ exposure to full-calorie soda ads on TV doubled.

This increase was driven by Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group. Children were exposed to nearly twice as many TV ads for sugary drinks from these companies. In contrast, children were exposed to 22 percent fewer ads for PepsiCo sugary drink products.

Two-thirds of all radio ads for sugary drinks heard by teens were for full-calorie sodas.

An 8-ounce serving of a full-calorie fruit drink has 110 calories and 7 teaspoons of sugar – the same amount found in an 8-ounce serving of a full-calorie soda or energy drink.

A 12-ounce can of soda typically contains 10.5 teaspoons of sugar.

Full-calorie iced teas, sports drinks, and flavored waters typically contain 3 to 5 teaspoons of sugar per 8-ounce serving.

More than half of sugary drinks and energy drinks market positive ingredients on their packages, and 64 percent feature their “all-natural” or “real” ingredients. For example, Cherry 7 Up Antioxidant highlights it is “low sodium,” and labels on Kool-Aid powders promote that they have “25 percent fewer calories than the leading beverage.”

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