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Soft Drink Foxes in the Children’s Health Henhouse

Soft Drink Foxes in the Children’s Health Henhouse
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The soft drink foxes are in the children’s health henhouse, and they are attacking the chicks.

Back in 2006, the top food and beverage companies agreed to some voluntary marketing guidelines after the Interagency Working Group (IWG) on Food Marketed to Children pointed out they were not playing fair with their advertising. Making high consumption of salt, sugar, and fats attractive to the 2-to-17 group was obviously working too well, and children’s health was at risk.

The food and beverage companies denied culpability, but they volunteered to encourage healthier choices through their own Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative (CFBAI).

Becoming Smarter about Alternative Marketing

Fast forward to 2011. A new report from the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity shows how difficult it is to retrain foxes, though it is easy to persuade them to be more clever about their feeding habits. Lead researcher Jennifer Harris, director of marketing initiatives at the Rudd Center, sums up the problem:

Beverage companies have pledged to improve child-directed advertising. But we are not seeing a true decrease in marketing exposure. Instead companies have shifted from traditional media to newer forms that engage youth through rewards for purchasing sugary drinks, community events, cause-related marketing, promotions, product placements, social media, and smartphones.

Clever of those foxes to switch to alternative forms of marketing. They gain more direct exposure at a lower per-unit cost.

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First photo from volto via stock.xchng; second photo from Peter G Trimming via Flickr Creative Commons; third photo from liberalmind1012 via Flickr Creative Commons

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2:40PM PST on Jan 23, 2012

Noted. Thank you.

11:17AM PST on Nov 9, 2011

Sodapop, along with other sources of corn syrup, is responsible for obesity in most people affected. Get someone who drinks it every day to stop altogether. They'll drop 20 or 30 pounds in less than four months. I guarantee it.

1:59PM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Thanks Much for this article!

7:17AM PST on Nov 8, 2011

Love the spin doctor's claims (whining) that health "nuts" are out there trying to blame "one product" for obesity... like we don't know that they're all part of global conglomerates who just care about one thing, money, at the cost of everything else.

11:29PM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

I agree that more regulation of marketing to children/teens is needed, as well as changing the attitudes and what is offered at home.

12:20PM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

Time to start looking towards the future and not just the moment at hand.

4:49AM PDT on Nov 5, 2011

Growing up my parents limited me to one sugary drink per day ... something that has stuck with me my entire life. I agree with some of the others that the primary responsibility here is with parents to teach their children what is appropriate and healthy. That being said, it would still be nice to have companies that were more ethical in their marketing efforts, but that probably isn't to be expected in our "bottom line" corporate evaluation system.

10:06PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

Soda machines do need toleave schools - but they are a money-maker and we all know what that means! Like any good measure ... it must start at home ..

2:57PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

I wish high schools would get the soda machines out of school. There is no ability at all to monitor soda intake when they've got it right in a place where parents have zero control.

2:08PM PDT on Nov 4, 2011

continued;stopping drinking these drinks its either up to parents or manufacturers have to change there ingredients,or this is a daft suggestion but over 15 label on these drinks like booze.But think they will find ways to still get it,when something is introduce its more harder to change it back to how it was,bad seems to catch on more than good unless there is enough incentive,my grandson doesnt like eating food much unless someone bribes him with sweets after he has eaten.I dont agree with that really but when I was a child someone always use to say there are starving kids in africa who would like that, all you have probably heard that one.Well most kids wouldnt listen to that one or as I have said to my grandson to be healthy and strong you have to eat something,you havent eaten much?Well I think I dont understand myself as kids always loved food that I have known before but seems now they like all the wrong stuff and its probably who they are mixing or growing up with,what can I say something has got to change or give somewhere,I foresee that 10 yrs time they will probably say that teenagers were to obese or maybe anorexic or getting ill to easy,alright its like that now.But whatever guidelines the government enforces it nearly always goes the other way,like healthy eating in school went back to having chips and burgers.What can I say...

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