Beverage companies are willing to spend a lot of money to hook your kids on sugary beverages. A new report on food advertising to children and teens found that these companies spent over $1 billion during a five-year period to advertise sugary drinks and energy drinks, targeting your children.
A report detailing this continued and widespread advertising of unhealthy beverages to children and teens has just been published by the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut. The report, Sugary Drinks F.A.C.T.S (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score) 2020, covers advertising from 2013 to 2018.
During this five-year period, beverage companies spent $586 million to promote regular soft drinks and soft drink brands. Advertising for unsweetened and diet beverages, including plain water and 100 percent fruit juice, totaled $573 million. Advertising for sports drinks increased by 24 percent while money spent on advertising sweetened iced tea nearly tripled.
The brands Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade and Mountain Dew each spent over $100 million to advertise their sugary drinks.
Disproportionately large amounts of money were spent to advertise soda, sports drinks and energy drinks on Spanish-language TV. Black children and teens saw over twice as many ads for these sugary beverages compared to white children and teens.
TV advertising to teens increased over the five years covered by the report despite a 52 percent decline in the amount of time they watched TV. Companies aimed their TV advertising of energy drinks and sports drinks directly at teens.
Exposure to sugary drink ads is increasing among preschoolers and children, again despite the fact that TV viewing time is decreasing.
PepsiCo and Coca-Cola brands were primarily responsible for the increased spending on advertising of sugary beverages, with PepsiCo increasing their advertising dollars by 28 percent and Coca-Cola by 81 percent. The brands Coke, Pepsi, Gatorade and Mountain Dew each spent over $100 million to advertise their sugary drinks.
The report offers several recommendations to curb the use of sugary drinks by children and teens. These include: discontinuing targeting such beverages to communities of color, taxes on sugary drinks, USDA regulations to require disclosures about the actual content of beverages, and the prohibiting the sales of energy drinks and shots to children under 18, as well as locating the products in less visible and accessible places in stores.
Beverage companies are willing to spend a lot of money to hook your kids on sugary beverages.
The report's other recommendations include the development of public health campaigns to highlight the excessive advertising of unhealthy beverages, particularly ads directed towards teens and communities of color; and campaigns increasing children and teens' awareness of the harms of sugary drinks especially those perceived to be “better for you” than sodas and energy drinks — such as iced tea, flavored water and sports drinks.
“Beverage companies have promised to take action to reduce the amount of beverage calories people consume, but at the same time they dramatically increased advertising for their full-calorie sugary drinks,” said Fran Fleming-Milici, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, in a statement. “It's well past time for the industry to stop putting profits ahead of our kids' health and put their advertising dollars behind products that contribute to good health rather than undermine it.”
You can read the entire Sugary Drinks FACTS 2020 report online .