Fight the pourer

This is the last in a series of posts based on a recent f.a.c.t.s. (“food advertising to children and teens score”) report on sugary sodas issued by the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale. A while ago, the center did a similar report on the advertising of junk food to children, and you can read my excerpts from that here.

I have no quarrel with the Rudd Center's recommendations for stemming the flood of sugary, caffeine-laden drinks toward children and teens, except that I don't see the industry heeding them, without being required to, ever. None of them are in the self interests of the corporations that would have to change; their focus is a healthy bottom line, not in a healthy nation. 

* Develop and market child-friendly products with less added sugar and no artificial sweeteners.
* Make nutrition and ingredient information more easily accessible.
* Disclose caffeine content on packaging and online.
* Discontinue targeting teens with marketing for sugary drinks and caffeinated products.
* Remove nutrition-related claims from high-sugar products.

The report also advises parents on what they can do, and, at least titularly, there's more hope there: Parents' may or may not care about a healthy nation, but they presumably care about their children.

* Buy and serve children water. You can also buy and serve low-fat or non-fat plain milk for children age 2 or over.
* Keep juice portions small. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than 4 to6 ounces of 100% juice per day for children ages 1 to 6, and 8 to12 ounces per day for older children.
* Read the labels of children's fruit drinks - check for sugar, artificial sweeteners, and artificial flavors. Remember - 4 grams of sugar equals one teaspoon, and most children should not have more than 15 grams of sugar per day.
* Contact beverage companies and tell them to change their harmful marketing practices.

I'm the parent of a 2-year-old, and so far, we're doing OK on these. He drinks milk or water almost exclusively, and we do read labels. I write often about marketing practices aimed at kids, but I have not contacted beverage companies. In my opinion, beverage companies will hear my buying decisions much louder than my registering my opinion with a call screener. Even so, here's the contact information provided in the study:

Arizona, 800-832-3775
Campbell Soup Company (V8), 800-257-8443
Coca-Cola, 800-438-2653
Dr Pepper Snapple Group, 800-696-5891
Hansen Beverage Company (Monster), 866-322-4466 Ext. 585
Innovation Ventures (5-hour Energy), 302-777-1616
Kraft Foods, 847-646-2000
Ocean Spray, 800-662-3263
PepsiCo, 914-253-2000
Red Bull, 310-393-4647
Rockstar, 702-939-5535
Sunny Delight Beverages, 800-395-5849
Unilever (Lipton), 888-547-8668
Welch Foods Inc. (Welch's), 800-340-6870

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