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Children's health

Soft Drink Companies Under Increasing Pressure to Halt Marketing to Kids

Wednesday, June 18, 2008 by: David Gutierrez, staff writer
Tags: children's health, health news, Natural News

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(NaturalNews) A group of organizations from 20 different countries has issued a public call for soft drink giants The Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo to halt all marketing of their products to children.

Consumer organizations including the Center for Science in the Public Interest sent letters to the companies asking them to stop marketing any beverages that contain sugar or caffeine to children under the age of 16. The products targeted include not only carbonated beverages, but also sweetened juices, sports drinks and teas. The groups also asked that these products be removed from all public and private schools.

In addition, the companies have been asked to prominently label the front of all beverage products with the number of calories per serving, and to limit their sponsorship of sports and health programs to blind trusts overseen by governments.

In a blind trust, the investor - in this case, a soft drink company - is unable to direct the specific course of an investment. Such trusts are often used to prevent conflicts of interest.

The new call comes on the heels of new regulations in the United Kingdom banning the television advertising of junk foods to children under the age of 16, and shortly follows a voluntary pledge by major food companies to stop advertising those foods to children under the age of 12. The voluntary pledge, signed by 10 companies including Coke and Pepsi, is an effort to avoid potentially stricter compulsory regulations.

The groups involved in issuing the new set of demands say that Coke and Pepsi's marketing efforts contribute to increasing obesity levels, especially in children. Mexican group El Poder del Consumidor points to a misleading, Coke-sponsored nutrition campaign in Mexico that pushes drinking Coca-Cola as a good way to rehydrate after exercise.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of obese people in the United States now exceeds 72 million, or 24 percent of the population.

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