Beverage companies spent $866 million to advertise unhealthy drinks in 2013, and children and teens remained key target audiences for that advertising, according to a new report released today by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. The report, Sugary Drink FACTS 2014, highlights some progress regarding beverage marketing to young people, but also shows that companies still have a long way to go to improve their marketing practices and the nutritional quality of their products to support young people’s health.
While the Children's Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI) regulates advertising placed in TV and other media where 35% or more of the audience is made up of children aged 11 and under, this report measures total exposure to TV advertising for sugary drinks by preschoolers (2-5), children (6-11) and teenagers (12-17), as well other forms of marketing they encounter.
"Despite promises by major beverage companies to be part of the solution in addressing childhood obesity, our report shows that companies continue to market their unhealthy products directly to children and teens,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, Yale Rudd Center’s director of marketing initiatives and lead author of the report. “They have also rapidly expanded marketing in social and mobile media that are popular with young people, but much more difficult for parents to monitor.”
Sugary Drink FACTS 2014, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, updates a 2011 report on the same topic. Using the same methods as the last report, researchers examined changes in the nutritional content of sugar-sweetened drinks including sodas, fruit drinks, flavored waters, sports drinks, iced teas, as well as zero-calorie energy drinks and shots. They also analyzed marketing tactics for 23 companies that advertised these products, including amount spent to advertise in all media; child and teen exposure to advertising and brand appearances on TV and visits to beverage company websites, including differences for black and Hispanic youth; advertising on websites popular with children and teens; and marketing in newer media like mobile apps and social media. Researchers also examined changes in advertising of diet beverages, 100% juice, and water.
Dr. Harris presented the findings on Nov. 19 at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association in New Orleans. Read more.
Berkeley has become the nation's first city to pass a soda tax. With majority required for passage, more than three-quarters of the votes were in favor of Measure D. The measure will place a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary drinks in an effort to reduce consumption and combat diet-related diseases like diabetes and obesity. The tax will go into effect on January 1, 2015.
“The passing of Measure D shows how committed the City and citizens of Berkeley are to health and nutrition,” said Marlene Schwartz, PhD, Rudd Center Director. “Research shows that soda and other sugary drinks are the number one single source of sugar in the American diet, and contribute to diet-related diseases like obesity and diabetes. By passing Measure D, the Berkeley community is raising awareness about the link between sugary drinks and diet-related diseases, raising revenue for community programs, and reducing consumption of these harmful drinks. This is an important development that will pave the way for similar policies across the country.” Read more.