Sugary Drinks

Sugary Drinks and Marketing to Children and Teens

Sugary drinks are calorically dense, and promote calorie intake and excess weight gain leading to obesity, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and type 2 diabetes. In Canada, a 2007 report noted that 17% of pre-schoolers in Quebec consumed sugary drinks. Twenty percent of male teens drink sugary drinks daily. There is significant scientific evidence to support that decreasing sugary drinks consumption will reduce the prevalence of obesity and obesity-related diseases.

There are concerning childhood obesity rates and obesity-related diseases in Canada; yet, beverage companies continue to market and pursue children and teens to consume sugary drinks. In the USA, 45% of the money spent on marketing to teens is for sugary drinks.

Industry Response:

  • Industry has said that per capita consumption of “ready to drink” soft drinks has dropped over the last 15 years, yet obesity rates remain stable. What they fail to state is that. Industry fail to state that fruit drinks, ice tea, slushies, sports drinks, fountain, energy drinks
  • Industry will also state how concerned they are about children’s health, donations they give and that they are part of the solution. See CSPI’s report Selfish Giving for more information.
  • Industry will argue that physical activity will reduce obesity.
  • Industry argues that consuming sugary drinks is personal responsibility
  • Industry argues that sugar taxes are a job killer and that beverage companies hire a diverse workforce

Promising Policies

  • ŸSafety warning label: drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay
  • Eliminating sugary drinks from kids’ meals or making water or milk the default drink for kids’ meals
  • Increasing the availability of water foundations in schools, recreation centres, hospitals, etc.
  • ŸIncluding fruit juices in the definition of sugary drinks
  • Decreasing portion sizes of sugary drinks
  • Introducing a tax on Sugary Drinks that includes diet drinks and fruit juices. We know from tobacco that when prices rise, consumption decreases.
  • Restricting the marketing of sugary drinks to children and youth

Thank you to our speakers: 

Tom Warshawski is a consultant paediatrician practicing in Kelowna, British Columbia.. Dr. Warshawski spearheaded the development of Sip Smart and is one of the leaders in the development of Screen Smart and of the LiGHT project. The Childhood Obesity Foundation is currently overseeing the implementation of MEND and Shapedown programs across British Columbia.

Roberta Friedman ScM is Director of Public Policy at the University of Connecticut’s Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity. She educates federal, state and local policy makers and advocacy organizations about food policy and obesity research, and creates resources to help them write and implement effective obesity prevention policies.

Click here to download the PDF version of the webinar slides part 1

Click here to download the PDF version of the webinar slides part 2

See below for the webinar recording: