Just as parents, heath experts, school administrators and politicians are scrambling to halt the country's exploding childhood obesity rates, comes news that soft drink makers are targeting children more than ever in an effort to get them to drink their sugary sodas.
A new report from the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity found that children and teenagers in the United States are seeing far more soda advertising than ever before as marketers are utilizing TV commercials, websites and YouTube videos to sell their products.
The report found that children's and teens' exposure to full-calorie soda ads on television doubled from 2008 to 2010, with the largest increases in ads coming from Coca-Cola and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc. Researchers also found that minority groups were targeted most heavily in ad campaigns.
Throughout the study period, researchers found that black children and teens saw 80 to 90 percent more ads than white children, while Hispanic children saw 49 percent more ads for sugary drinks and energy drinks on Spanish-language television, and Hispanic teens saw 99 percent more ads.
They also found that marketing for energy drinks such as Red Bull and Amp was geared towards kids and teens despite warnings from the American Academy of Pediatrics that highly caffeinated energy drinks are not appropriate for children and adolescents, the report said. The Yale report found that in 2010, teens saw 18 percent more TV ads, and heard 46 percent more radio ads for energy drinks than adults did.