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Report: Sugary Drink Facts

The Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity just released a report, Sugary Drink Facts, that highlights sugary drink nutrition and marketing to kids. While the report highlights some progress regarding beverage marketing to young people, it shows that companies still have a long way to go to improve their marketing practices and the nutritional quality of their products to support young people’s health.

A typical 8-ounce children’s drink contains 60 calories and 16 grams of sugar – more sugar than recommended for most children to consume in an entire day. One-third of children’s drinks contain artificial sweeteners.

Since 2010, overall level of marketing to youth on TV and children’s websites has gone down. Coca-Cola Co., Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and PepsiCo now provide calories-per-serving on the front of most packages, and they enhanced nutrition information on their websites. But not all companies are improving, and advertising is still overwhelmingly for unhealthy drinks:

* Preschoolers saw 39% more ads for PepsiCo’s sugary drinks in 2013 than in 2010; children aged 6 to 11 saw 25% more.

* One out of three TV ads for sugary drinks viewed by teens, and one out of four such ads viewed by preschoolers and children, promoted energy drinks. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, energy drinks “have no place in the diet of children and adolescents.”

* Out of all advertising dollars, beverage companies continued to spend four times as much to advertise sugar-sweetened beverages as they spend on 100% juice and plain water.

* Coca-Cola, Red Bull, and Pepsi were the top-three drink brands in Facebook likes, Twitter followers, and YouTube views.

The report recommends companies stop marketing sugary drinks and energy drinks to children and teens, and develop children’s drinks with less than 40 calories per serving and no artificial sweeteners.

Parents should ignore all the marketing claims on drink packages and check ingredient lists on packages of children’s drinks for added sugar, artificial sweeteners, and juice content.

The full report, a four page summary, and tools for consumers and researchers are available at Follow the Rudd Center on Twitter at @YaleRuddCenter and take part in the conversation about the report using the hashtag #sugarydrinkfacts.


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