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Study Says Sugary Soft Drink Makers Target Black and Brown Children: Are Manufacturers Wooing Our Kids?

A Yale study released Oct. 31 alleges that the makers of sugary soft drinks are targeting black and Hispanic children and teenagers in their U.S. ad campaigns.

According to the report, released by the Yale University Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity, black kids and teens are viewing 80  to 90 percent more ads than white children, and Hispanic teens are watching up to 99 percent more of the ads than their white counterparts.

“Our children are being assaulted by these drinks that are high in sugar and low in nutrition,” said Kelly Brownell, co-author of the report. “The companies are marketing them in highly aggressive ways.”

Coca-Cola spokesperson, Diana Garza Ciarlante, said the report is wrong. “The Coca-Cola Company has a worldwide policy that we do not market any of our products directly to children under the age of 12.”

Ciarlante says she has proof that the Yale study is flawed. “The Rudd Center’s findings contradict peer-reviewed research published in the August 2011 Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, which found that between 2003 and 2009, the largest reductions in advertising to children (ages 2-5 and 6-11) were seen in the beverage category. … Clearly, our company and our industry are committed to responsible advertising and the numbers prove it.”

Brownell disagrees, saying a big part of the increased number of thirsty viewers can actually be attributed to the move of advertisers into the online arena — rather than traditional advertisements.

Coca-Cola is  the parent company of  Sprite and Fanta, as well as for energy drinks and juices like Odwalla and Fuze energy drink.