Recently, Childhood Obesity News mentioned public resistance to the soda industry’s deliberate and unrelenting targeting of teenagers in its advertising, as documented by Deakin University research. U.S. Right to Know co-director Gary Ruskin maintains that teens are vulnerable to manipulation just as children are (and adults, for that matter).
Ruskin speaks of Coke’s “efforts to evade responsibility for the global obesity epidemic” and adds,
What’s insidious here is a health campaign that is using tobacco’s tactics, promoting alternative science in a way that advances the notion that sugary sodas aren’t really so bad for people’s health.
A big part of that notion, as revealed by the study, is Big Soda’s ambition to convince the world that what people eat and drink has nothing to do with their obesity status. The corporations are pitching the idea that the only responsible factor is lack of exercise, and they are even trying to induce the World Health Organization to endorse their point of view.
Co-author Benjamin Wood said the point of the study was to “raise awareness of these hidden tactics and strategies to target teenagers and their mothers.” The Coca-Cola Company had promised to stop marketing to kids under 12, but in what universe is it possible to produce advertising aimed at teenagers that will not be seen and heard by younger kids? To call this any sort of meaningful promise is silly.
The high SSB consumption in the Caribbean
What part of the world consumes the relative highest amount of sugar-sweetened beverages? The Caribbean. The area shares with Latin America the distinction of “highest absolute mortality related to SSB consumption.” In all the entire world, eight of the 20 countries with the highest SSB-related death toll are in Latin America and the Caribbean. Dominica, the Bahamas, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines are the countries in the most trouble.
In Trinidad, approximately 75% the students between the ages of 13 and 15 consume SSBs daily. In Barbados and Jamaica, and the Bahamas, the percentages are almost as high. Journalist Daphne Ewing-Chow obtained a quotation from Maisha Hutton, Executive Director of the Healthy Caribbean Coalition:
One in every three Caribbean children is obese and at risk for developing non-communicable diseases including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.
Apparently, part of the attraction of many popular beverages is that they dye the kids’ lips and tongues in garish neon colors, which some grownups find particularly annoying.
More bad news
As if all this were not enough, these scary statistics prevail despite the fact that restrictions and preventative measures are in place in many areas. Four years ago, Barbados initiated a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, including fruit juice and sports drinks. But…
While there was a 4.3% decline in SSB sales and an increase of 7.5% in bottled water sales during the first year of implementation, a recent study found evidence suggesting that consumers responded to the price increase by purchasing cheaper sugary drinks that are typically associated with higher levels of sugar.
Your responses and feedback are welcome!
Source: “Coca-Cola internal documents reveal efforts to sell to teens, despite obesity crisis,” WashingtonPost.com, 12/18/19
Source: “Sugary Beverages Are Feeding A Childhood Obesity Epidemic In the Caribbean,” Forbes.com, 12/23/19
Photo credit: Amir Appel on Visualhunt/CC BY