Soft Drink Manufacturers Targeting Minority Children

By: Saira Malhotra

On Monday, the NY Daily News reported on a study performed by the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. The report findings indicated that African American children watch approximately 90% more advertising than their Caucasian counterparts. Capturing this audience, soda and energy drink manufacturers bombard their viewers with enticing ad campaigns which in turn yields the very result they are looking for: Increased sales.

According to the reports co-author, Kelly Brownell said "Our children are being assaulted by these drinks that are high in sugar and low in nutrition....The companies are marketing them in highly aggressive ways." The report also indicates that the increased statistics can be attributed to online interaction, leaving the kids hit by all angles of media. According to the NY Daily News, Coca-Cola, parent company of Sprite, Odwalla and energy drinks, accounts for 30 million Facebook fans, not to mention the number of hits their own website gets.

The often playful-looking campaigns drawing kids to their 'thirst quenching' and sometimes nutritionally-positioned products are anything but that. These campaigns are the face of several charts and graphs supporting company mission statements and corporate objectives contributing to 'the bottom line'. Can there be two winners? Not at all. The recipients of these campaigns are the Hispanic and African American juvenile community who already have genetic disadvantages, such as, diabetes and heart disease.  According to (African American Collaborative Obesity  Research Network), not only are these children candidates for diabetes resulting from unhealthy eating and drinking habits, but their body already has a predisposition to them.

According to a report published by the USDA, African American and Hispanic kids at every age range consume far more sugar-sweetened beverages than Caucasian kids. The report also demonstrates that these communities are not able to kick the habit and it follows them throughout their adult life.

It is hard for these communities to beat the odds as they are targeted by large soda manufacturers. In addition to television, there is a much higher frequency by which African American and Hispanic children frequent the cinema versus Caucasian children. Some argue that the constant exposure they get through the media to these unhealthy drinks begins to normalize the product for both them and their guardians.

Unfortunately, using these 2 communities as an avenue for business growth is not a new approach for soft drink companies. These tactics have been used since 1930's, according to AACORN, through a variety of tools, such as sales promotions, public relations and sponsorships. According to the study performed by Yale, the internet has now provided yet another tool to bring about a spike in their consumption of these beverages.

Photo: rhinoji 

For more updates on food news, follow me on Twitter (@MarcusCooks)