Minorities, Economic Disadvantage, and Coke

Brush with Coke

Last time, Childhood Obesity News looked at some of the “collateral damage” (aside from the obvious obesity) the makers of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) inflict on the poor, including members of politically powerless minority groups: sub-optimal land use; air and water pollution; tons of packaging trash; and an increased need for dental care by those who can least afford it.

The experts who specialize in educational strategies and public policy are at their wits’ end trying to figure out how to counteract the destructive influence of Big Soda. One report points out that children who drink SSBs go on to drink ever-increasing amounts as they proceed into adolescence.

Consumption is higher among children and adolescents in families of lower income and education levels. Lower levels of exercise are associated with higher consumption of regular soda.

But getting less exercise is not the only lifestyle habit associated with high soda consumption. Kids who drink a lot of SSBs watch more television, eat more fast food, and smoke more cigarettes. So do their whole families. They also eat fewer vegetables than their compatriots who consume less soda.

In their marketing efforts, producers of soft drinks and fast foods go out of their way to target the poor and minorities. The headline, “Fatty Foods Pushed More On Latino Kids Amid Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Study Says,” summarizes the problem. The study it refers to, from the University of Arizona, found that…

…Spanish television programming for children is packed with more junk-food ads than the same type of shows in English… The research found 84 percent of ads aimed at Spanish-speaking kids promoted foods ranked in the worst of three food categories devised by federal health officials.

Fox News quoted Juliet Sims of Prevention Institute, who described how companies work very hard to hook kids at the earliest possible age, and added, “And they’re going after children of color even more aggressively.” Public policy makers take their cue from this, and recommend that efforts to curb consumption should also concentrate on these demographics.

They also recommend focusing on children under six, because the best way to prevent obesity is to nip it in the bud. With every passing year, obesity in an individual grows more entrenched, as the body and brain adjust to operating with horrible substances for fuel, and adapt to demand even more non-nutritive pseudo-food.

What Coke Has Been Up To Recently

Recently, the publicity experts over at Coca-Cola flooded the internet with articles written by “third parties who are seen as trusted authorities” who were paid to tout the appropriateness of a mini-can of Coke as an appropriate snack with which to celebrate American Heart Month.

The corporate hypesters play it both ways: supersizing is great because the consumer can be fooled into thinking it’s a terrific deal. But tiny-sizing is also wonderful, because the consumer can be duped into believing that small equals healthful. And guess what? Buying Coke in a smaller can costs more per ounce, taking advantage of the economically disadvantaged even more efficiently than before. What does this have to do with ethnic minorities? Hold onto your hat:

For Coca-Cola Co., the public relations strategy with health experts in February focused on the theme of “Heart Health & Black History Month.” The effort yielded a radio segment and multiple online pieces…

Those marketers don’t miss a trick!

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Consumption Patterns of Sugar-Sweetened Carbonated Beverages Among Children and Adolescents,” Springer.com, 02/26/15
Source: “Fatty Foods Pushed More On Latino Kids Amid Childhood Obesity Epidemic, Study Says,” FoxNews.com, 05/08/13
Source: “Coke is a healthy snack: How company pays to get out that message,” Mashable.com, 03/16/15
Image by Mark Rain

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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