We recently learned about the Open Truth campaign, “an effort by San Francisco Bay Area youth, public health officials and concerned community members to increase awareness about the health impacts of sugary drinks… and expose the tactics of the sugary drinks industry, which targets young people, parents, and communities of color in order to increase profits and brand loyalty.”
On its website, Open Truth shares many powerful statistics, including:
- “Beverage companies spend more than $28 million a year on marketing campaigns specifically targeting African-American and Hispanic youth ages 2 to 17.”
- “In 2013, Coca-Cola Co. placed 38 million ads for products or promotions on children’s websites, despite promises they would not advertise these products to children.”
- From 2007-2013, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, and the American Beverage Association combined contributed over $100 million to directly influence policy makers and local governments.”
Meanwhile, health organizations that take money from the soft drink industry — which includes the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics — instead use their platforms to let the public know that soft drinks can “fit” in a “balanced” diet.
We believe the racial and class-related implications of soft drink marketing must be discussed by health organizations. It’s especially odd when health organizations acknowledge race and class-based health disparities without ever touching on the fact that industry marketing is one of the driving factors.
Behold the power of industry funding!