Sugary Drinks FACTS 2014

Marketing to Youth: Some Progress But Much Room to Improve

Beverage companies continue to market sugary drinks to young people. This report examines the marketing behind sugary drinks and finds that while marketing to youth on TV is down, there is abundant marketing on social and mobile media.

The Issue:

Three years after the first report, Sugary Drink FACTS 2014 examines the nutrition of more than 900 drink products and quantifies marketing practices of 23 different beverage companies. Prepared by Yale University's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, the report documents the changes in sugary drink nutrition and marketing to children and teens over the past three years.

Key Findings:

Progress has been made in beverage marketing to youth between 2010 and 2013 according to Sugary Drink FACTS 2014 report:

  • Children and teens saw fewer sugary drink ads on TV (a decrease of 30% to 39%, depending on age group).
  • Sugary drink ads on websites primarily visited by youth have gone down 72 percent.
  • Companies made nutrition information, including per serving calories and caffeine content, more accessible.

There is still room to improve marketing practices:

  • Beverage companies spend four times as much—$866 million—to advertise unhealthy drinks as they did to advertise 100 percent fruit juice or water.
  • A typical children’s drink contains 16 grams of sugar, more than recommended for an entire day.
  • Some children’s drinks may feature reduced sugar but many (36%) contain artificial sweeteners.
  • Sugary drink and energy drink brands are extensively using Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube to reach youth.
  • Beverage companies continue to target Black and Latino youth, who have higher rates of obesity than White youth.

Among the authors’ recommendations: Beverage companies should stop marketing sugary drinks and energy drinks to children and teens; policymakers can require stronger product labeling; and parents can ignore on-package marketing and check ingredient lists for added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and juice content.

Media Contacts

Melissa Blair

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (609) 627-5937

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Beverage Companies Targeting Children with Unhealthy Products

“Despite promises by major beverage companies to be part of the solution in addressing childhood obesity, our report shows that companies continue to market their unhealthy products directly to children and teens,” said Jennifer Harris, PhD, Yale Rudd Center’s director of marketing initiatives and lead author of the report."

Read the news release