If you think cake and donuts are what’s making us fat, think again.
Soft drinks and fruit juices are coming under increasing scrutiny. Held at least partially accountable for the increasing rate of obesity — especially among minorities — the sweet quenchers are facing more and more resistance. More than 30 states already have soda taxes and New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg is going as far as proposing a soda ban on 16-ounces and over.
On average Americans consume nearly 100 pounds of sugar and high-calorie sweeteners each year, according to the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs‘ Face the Facts initiative. That’s almost 30 teaspoons a day.
Nearly half of that is in soda or fruit drinks that contain sugar or other sweeteners, which are top sources of calories in the American diet. Coca-Cola sells on average 78, 2-liter bottles per person per year, according to an ABC News report.
And for Hispanics and blacks, the average consumption is typically higher.
Former Coca-Cola marketing executive Todd Putnam revealed in a recent interview that the world’s most popular soft drink targeted blacks and Latinos in their marketing while he was there from 1997-2001. Health advocates believe there is a link between this and other soft drink advertising campaigns and the increased obesity rates among backs — who have the highest in the country at 44% — and Hispanics, which are second at 38%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity conducted a study on soda companies’ advertisements to African American and Latino children found some interesting trends. Among them:
- Soda ads made up 13 percent of the ads on black prime time shows, compared with 2 percent of ads on general prime time shows.
- Soft drinks were 13.5 percent of ads with non-whites (almost exclusively blacks) compared with 6.2 percent of ads with whites.
- Exposure to sugar-sweetened beverage ads decreased over time at all ages, but the decrease was less for black than white children.
- As for outdoor advertising, Black and Latino neighborhoods had the most ads for higher calorie/low-nutrient foods, including sugary beverages.