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Report Slams Makers of Sugary Drinks for Targeting Kids
Date:10/31/2011

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, Oct. 31 (HealthDay News) -- A new report claims that the makers of sugar-laden drinks such as sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks and fruit drinks take direct aim at children, particularly black and Hispanic kids, in their marketing campaigns.

Despite promises to improve their marketing practices, these companies still use tactics such as rewards for buying sugary drinks, community events, cause-related marketing, promotions and product placement in social media, according to researchers at the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. The findings were slated to be presented Monday at the American Public Health Association's annual meeting in Washington, D.C.

"We found that children's exposure to TV ads for full-calorie soda doubled from 2008 to 2010," Jennifer Harris, report author and director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, said during a morning news conference. "We also found that energy drinks are heavily marketed to children and teens."

Companies are reaching children not only by direct advertising, but through product placement on prime-time TV, the Internet and Facebook, Harris said.

Not only do beverage makers target children, but they also make health claims even though their products contain sugar, artificial sweeteners and caffeine, added Marlene Schwartz, deputy director of the Rudd Center. Many parents think sweetened sports drinks and fruit drinks are good for their children, she noted, and "they also believe the nutrient claims about vitamin C and real and natural ingredients, and interpret those as meaning that these products are healthful options."

"One of the things we were surprised to learn is that some of these products marketed to children contain both artificial sweeteners and sugar," she added.

To reach these conclusions, the authors looked at the marketing strategies of 14 companies and
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