Billions spent on ads encouraging minority youth to drink sugar-laden beverages despite health consequences
Updated 1321 GMT (2121 HKT) June 23, 2020
(CNN)People of color are dying from Covid-19 in America in shocking numbers, victims to a disease that attacks those in poor health the hardest.
This disparity is part of the systemic racism that has driven many protestors to the streets over the last few weeks, flaming with anger over the injustices of police brutality and social inequities.
Back at home, they returned to the barrage of ads on television and social media designed to entice them to drink sugary beverages, a leading cause of obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart and kidney disease -- the very conditions that put minorities at high risk of dying during the pandemic.
"If Covid-19 teaches us anything, it's that this kind of marketing has to be stopped," said nutrition researcher Marion Nestle, who has authored numerous books on food marketing, including 2015's "Soda Politics: Taking on Big Soda (and Winning)."
Yet the amount of money spent on such advertising exceeded a billion dollars in 2018, according a new report released Tuesday from the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at the University of Connecticut entitled Sugary Drinks FACTS 2020.
A billion dollars in one year
"Beverage companies spend a tremendous amount of money on marketing for one reason -- it works," said Sara Ribakove, a policy associate at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which published a scathing analysis of beverage marketing tactics in 2013.
"Targeted marketing, spread across various platforms such as websites, apps, television and others, contributes to and exacerbates health disparities," said Ribakove, who was not involved in the RUDD study.
A 12-ounce cola drink has about 39 grams of sugar -- so just one soda provides more than the recommended limit -- less than 25 grams of sugar a day. While sports drinks have less sugar, about 21 grams, that's still a day's allowance and the drinks have been