Cola companies under pressure worldwide

June 27, 2008 by  
Filed under Childrens Health, Food & Nutrition

The UK has led the way for a group of consumer organisations from 20 different countries to issue a public call for soft drink giants Coca-Cola and Pepsi to stop marketing directly to children. With 24% of the US population now defined as obese, this is clearly a problem and sugared, carbonated drinks add sweet fuel to the fire.

Letters pointing out the dangers of products containing high amounts of sugar or caffeine to children under the age of 16 have been sent out worldwide to the drinks giants and their subsidiaries. The products being targeted include not just colas but also sweetened juices, sports drinks and teas and they want them also removed from being offered or sold in schools.

In addition, they want the companies to prominently label the front of all such products with the number of calories per serving, and to limit their sponsorship of sports and health programmes.

New regulations in the UK have banned the advertising of junk food on television to children under the age of 16, and there is agreement on a voluntary pledge by major food companies to stop advertising those foods to children under the age of 12. Ten companies have signed up to this so far,including Coke and Pepsi,in an effort to avoid being faced with 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. The Mexican group, El Poder del Consumidor, are particularly concerned that many of the drink company ads are misleading. For instance, in Mexico a campaign was run for a Coca Cola-sponsored nutrition campaign that promoted drinking Coca-Cola as a good way to rehydrate after exercise.