Modern Kids See More Soda Advertising Than Ever

Today’s children and teens see way more advertising than kids even three years ago were being exposed to. With all the online marketing available to kids, as well as TV and radio, kids are being bombarded with tons of ads for sugary beverages.

Reuters reports that children’s and teens’ exposure to full-calorie soda ads on television doubled from 2008 to 2010, with Coca-Cola Co and Dr Pepper Snapple Group Inc primarily throwing down the funds for such ads. There also a reported disparity regarding race, as African-American kids saw witnessed 80% to 90% more ads than white children. Hispanic children saw 49% more ads for sugary drinks and energy drinks on Spanish-language television.

Kelly Brownell, a co-author of the report, described this increase in ads as “an assault” on our children as companies are seeking “aggressive” ways to get their attention in our highly-competitive media. What’s also concerning is that the report determined that children are being exposed to more of these advertisements than adults.

In 2010 alone, teens saw 18% more television ads and heard 46%more radio ads for energy drinks than adults did.

The American Beverage Association has contested these findings, saying that television ads for sugary beverages have declined on recent years. But Brownell notes that kids aren’t parked in front of the TV for endless hours these days — they’re in front of the computer. And beverage companies are very aware of their online customers, setting up spots on all the big social media sites to interact with customers:

The report shows, for example, that 21 sugary drink brands had YouTube channels in 2010, with more than 229 million views by June 2011. Coca-Cola was the most popular brand on Facebook, with more than 30 million fans.

The most-visited websites operated by soft drink brands were and Capri Sun, which is owned by Kraft Foods Inc.

Cocoa-Cola maintains that they don’t advertise to children under the age of 12 — which I would still argue is too young. But when you take into the mind that children under 13 are all over Facebook, and that Mark Zuckerberg himself intends to keep it that way, it’s evident that we definitely have a problem.


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