Soft Drink Companies Copy Tobacco Playbook to Lure Young Users

Soft Drink Companies Copy Tobacco Playbook to Lure Young Users

Tobacco Industry Involvement in Children’s Sugary Drinks Market: Cigarette Giants Bought Food Companies, Used Cartoon Characters, Colors, Flavors to Boost Sales of Sweetened Beverages, UCSF Study Shows

Tobacco conglomerates that used colors, flavors and marketing techniques to entice children as future smokers transferred these same strategies to sweetened beverages when they bought food and drinks companies starting in 1963, according to a study by researchers at UC San Francisco.

The study, which draws from a cache of previously secret documents from the tobacco industry that is part of the UCSF Industry Documents Library tracked the acquisition and subsequent marketing campaigns of sweetened drink brands by two leading tobacco companies: R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris. It found that as tobacco was facing increased scrutiny from health authorities, its executives transferred the same products and tactics to peddle soft drinks. The study publishes March 14, 2019, in the BMJ.

“Executives in the two largest U.S.-based tobacco companies had developed colors and flavors as additives for cigarettes and used them to build major children’s beverage product lines, including Hawaiian Punch, Kool-Aid, Tang and Capri Sun,” said senior author Laura Schmidt, PhD, MSW, MPH, of the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Even after the tobacco companies sold these brands to food and beverage corporations, many of the product lines and marketing techniques designed to attract kids are still in use today.”

Fruit Juice, Sports Drinks Linked to Obesity, Metabolic Disease

American youth currently consume an average of 143 calories a day in sugary beverages, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These calorie-dense drinks do not provide the satiety of foods and are associated with obesity and metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Sugary beverages include most fruit juices, sports and energy drinks, soda and other beverages sweetened with added sugars, including honey, fructose, glucose, sucrose, dextrose, corn sweetener, malt syrup, corn syrup, brown sugar and raw sugar.

The new papers, which are available in the UCSF Truth Tobacco Industry Documents Library, a subset of the UCSF Industry Documents Library, reveal connections between the tobacco and food industries.

Tobacco giant R.J. Reynolds led the transition to sweetened beverages in 1963 when it purchased Hawaiian Punch from Pacific Hawaiian Products Company, according to the documents. The beverage previously had been promoted to adults as a cocktail mixer, but R.J. Reynolds sought to beef up the drink’s “Punchy” mascot – a counterpart to the “Joe Camel” cartoon character the company used to promote cigarettes – and featured it on toys, schoolbook covers, comics, tumblers, clothing and TV commercials. Punchy became the “best salesman the beverage ever had,” according to tobacco industry documents.

In the ’60s and ’70s, the company conducted taste tests with children and mothers to evaluate sweetness, colors and flavors for Hawaiian Punch product line extensions. The children’s preferences were prioritized, the authors noted.

By 1983, R.J. Reynolds introduced the nation’s first juice box, marketed as a “handy little carton that comes with its very own straw.” This innovation was largely responsible for a 34 percent jump in sales, according to industry documents.

Kool-Aid Joins Marlboro

Meanwhile, tobacco competitor Philip Morris had acquired Kool-Aid, via General Foods, in 1985. The company flipped its marketing audience from families to children, created its “Kool-Aid Man” mascot, and launched collaborations with branded toys, including Barbie and Hot Wheels. It also developed a children’s Kool-Aid loyalty program described as “our version of the Marlboro Country Store,” a cigarette incentives program.

“The Wacky Wild Kool-Aid style campaign had tremendous reach and impact,” said first author Kim Nguyen, ScD, MPH, who is also with the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies. “Lots of kids in the ’80s dreamed of getting swag from the Wacky Warehouse. What is really ‘wacky’ is that the Kool-Aid kid program was modeled after a tobacco marketing strategy designed to build allegiance with smokers.”

By 2004, Philip Morris had developed at least 36 child-tested flavors to its Kool-Aid line, of which some – like “Great Bluedini” – integrated colors with cartoon characters. The tobacco giant also acquired Capri Sun and Tang, and used similar child-focused integrated marketing strategies to drive those sales.

Most sweetened beverage manufacturers claim to limit marketing to children of unhealthy foods and drinks. The industry launched both the Children’s Advertising Review Unit, to promote responsible advertising to children through industry self-policing, and the Children’s Food and Beverage Advertising Initiative, which states that it devotes 100 percent of “child-directed advertising to better-for-you foods.”

“The industry claims that these tobacco-inspired marketing strategies are not actually targeting children and should be excluded from these industry-led agreements” said Schmidt. “But the evidence cited in our research shows that these product lines and marketing techniques were specifically designed for and tested on children.”

The authors conclude that, given the current high rates of childhood obesity, there is a clear need to replace current industry-led voluntary standards with well-enforced government regulations on marketing sugary beverages to children.

“Parents do play a significant role in what their kids eat and drink,” Nguyen said. “However, we cannot underestimate the influence of these beverage corporations and their marketing. They intentionally develop marketing campaigns that appeal to kids by making the drinks fun and exciting.”

The UCSF Industry Documents Library was launched in 2002 as a digital portal for tobacco documents. Today, the library includes close to 15 million internal tobacco, drug, chemical and food industry documents used by scientists, policymakers, journalists and community members in their efforts to improve and protect the health of the public.

Co-Authors: Stanton Glantz, PhD, from the UCSF Center for Tobacco Control Research and Education; Casey Palmer, MS, RN, from the UCSF Philip R. Lee Institute for Health Policy Studies.

Funding: Laura and John Arnold Foundation, CrossFit Foundation, the National Cancer Institute.

Disclosures: No conflicts of interest.

About UCSF: UC San Francisco (UCSF) is a leading university dedicated to promoting health worldwide through advanced biomedical research, graduate-level education in the life sciences and health professions, and excellence in patient care. It includes top-ranked graduate schools of dentistry, medicine, nursing and pharmacy; a graduate division with nationally renowned programs in basic, biomedical, translational and population sciences; and a preeminent biomedical research enterprise. It also includes UCSF Health, which comprises three top-ranked hospitals – UCSF Medical Center and UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals in San Francisco and Oakland – as well as Langley Porter Psychiatric Hospital and Clinics, UCSF Benioff Children’s Physicians and the UCSF Faculty Practice. UCSF Health has affiliations with hospitals and health organizations throughout the Bay Area. UCSF faculty also provide all physician care at the public Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center, and the SF VA Medical Center. The UCSF Fresno Medical Education Program is a major branch of the University of California, San Francisco’s School of Medicine. Please visit www.ucsf.edu/news.

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For additional information, Contact:

UC San Francisco
Suzanne Leigh 
Suzanne.leigh@ucsf.edu

Stories about this research: 

How Big Tobacco Hooked Children on Sugary Drinks, New York Times

 

Metabolic Syndrome and Mental Health

Metabolic Syndrome and Mental Health

METABOLIC SYNDROME AND MENTAL HEALTH

Modern health means metabolic health. The main pathway to chronic diseases today is the breakdown of our finely tuned metabolic machinery inside, due to processed food, lifestyle and – mental health? Stress and depression have potent effects on our behavior and creating imbalance of hormones such as glucose, insulin and inflammation. Poor mental health contributes to the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of common maladies including a large waist, high lipid levels and blood pressure, breakdown of the balance between insulin and glucose, and the most invisible to all, a fatty liver. You will hear from four experts in this area on the important topics of nutrition, optimal daily habits and how to prevent depression and the cascade of dysregulation that manifests as the metabolic syndrome.

Image - Elissa Epel
Elissa Epel
Ph.D., Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UCSF

Elissa Epel, Ph.D, is a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSF. Epel studied psychology and psychobiology at Stanford University (BA), and clinical and health psychology at Yale University (Ph.D.). She completed a clinical internship at the Palo Alto Veterans Healthcare System. Her research aims to elucidate mechanisms of healthy aging, and to apply this basic science to scalable interventions that can reach vulnerable populations. She is the Director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Lab, and the Center for Obesity Assessment, Study, & Treatment, (COAST), and Associate Director of the Center for Health and Community. With her collaborators, she is conducting clinical trials to examine the effect of self-regulation and mindfulness training programs on cellular aging, weight, diet, and glucose control.

Image - Wolfram Alderson
Wolfram Alderson
CEO, Hypoglycemia Support Foundation

Wolfram Alderson’s career in pursuit of social and environmental change spans across four decades. He currently serves as CEO of the Hypoglycemia Support Foundation. The broad focus of his lifetime of work has been improving human and environmental health–often by developing programs and organizations that accomplish both. In addition to being a social change agent, Wolfram is also a visual artist and writer, and has built two major therapeutic arts programs, one for refugees and one for abused children.

Image - Robert Lustig
Dr. Robert Lustig
Professor emeritus of Pediatrics, Division of Endocrinology, UCSF

Dr. Lustig specializes in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. His research and clinical practice has focused on childhood obesity and diabetes. Dr. Lustig holds a Bachelor’s in Science from MIT, a Doctorate in Medicine from Cornell University Medical College, and a Master’s of Studies in Law from U.C. Hastings College of the Law. Dr. Lustig is the author of the bestselling books The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains and Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity and Disease.

Dr. Natalie Rasgon
Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology, Stanford University School of Medicine

Dr. Rasgon is a professor in the departments of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Stanford University’s School of Medicine. She began her distinguished career at Odessa Medical Institute and UCLA School of Medicine, and in 2002, she established the Center for Neuroscience in Women’s Health at Stanford University. Dr. Rasgon is considered a renowned expert in neuroendocrinology and women’s mental health. Dr. Rasgon is the author of more than 165 peer-reviewed publications, 25 book chapters, and is a reviewer for 30 professional journals. Her predominant research focus has been on neuroendocrine correlates in various models of affective and cognitive neuroscience, the treatment of bipolar disorder in women, the use of hormonal interventions during menopause and the effects on mood and cognitive function, and the interplay between endocrine function and aging.

Get Tickets Here
https://www.commonwealthclub.org/events/2018-11-01/metabolic-syndrome-and-mental-health

The Commonwealth Club
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco94105

Checked your Exposome Lately?

Checked your Exposome Lately?

UCSF to Lead The Exposome & Metabolic Health on September 21, 2018

Livestreamed Sugar, Stress, Environment and Weight Symposium Fuses Research and Action

UC San Francisco experts on environmental exposures, social adversity, and health policy will lead The Exposome & Metabolic Health on Friday, September 21st at UCSF Laurel Heights Auditorium from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (PT).

The event, the twelfth annual COAST/Sugar Stress Environment, and Weight (SSEW) Symposium, will unite researchers, healthcare providers, environmental health, and policy advocates from across the UC Campuses in a day-long conference focusing on how exposures from our environment, both chemical and psychological, get underneath the skin and affect human metabolic health and obesity.

Obesity and related chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, are some of the leading health crises of the 21st century and scientists are still trying to understand how our ‘exposome’ may play a key role. The exposome encompasses all exposures within the human physical and social environments, including air pollution, chemicals, pesticides, processed foods, chronic stress, and even our neighborhoods.

In-person registration is free to the public and a free livestream link is offered to those who register through Eventbrite (www.exposomehealth.eventbrite.com)

“We are at a critical moment in the history of human health and the environment, and the science we will discuss is of utmost important to public health, policy, and individuals. We must raise awareness of how our air, our food, and our social environments are impacting our health in dramatic ways, affecting us now and affecting the next generations,” says Elissa Epel, PhD, Professor of Psychiatry and Director of the UCSF Consortium for Obesity Assessment Study and Treatment (COAST): “This symposium will cover critical new science and policy actions that are of interest to all, from students to scientists to our grandparents”.

Speakers and panelists will describe the wide reaching and invisible impact of social stress and environmental toxics in our air and food on obesity. “Science shows that we are all exposed to multiple industrial chemicals, many of which are a concern for metabolic diseases. Pregnant women, children, communities of color and low-income communities can be more impacted by these exposures increasing the urgency to take actions to prevent harmful exposures” said Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Director at UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, co-sponsor of the event.

Highlights include:

  • Dr. Eve Ekman, a leading scholar and instructor of meditation and emotion regulation will begin the day with an introductory level meditation instruction, integrating environmental issues.
  • Dr. Tracey Woodruff, Director of the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative, offers an overview of the field of toxic exposures and their impact on health outcomes.


Understanding our “social exposome”

  • Dr. Aric Prather, UCSF Professor and Co-Director of the Consortium for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment discusses how social stressors and relationships can act like environmental toxins, a concept called “social exposome”.
  • Dr. Barbara Laraia, UC Berkeley Professor reveals why neighborhoods and stress have a major impact on obesity, especially during pregnancy.


Understanding interdependence with our food systems

  • Dr. Jenny Jay, UCLA Professor and Researcher at the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability provides perspectives on how processed foods and water use impact both the environment and public health.


Understanding the impact of our personal choices

  • Dr. Dale Bredesen, UCSF/UCLA Physician and leading expert on neurodegenerative diseases discusseshow environmental toxins may lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Wolfram Alderson, a social impact innovator and expert on how we can remove toxins from our personal ecosystems and our communities.


Understanding how chemical exposures work in the body

  • Dr. Michele La Merrill, UC Davis Professor of environmental toxicology discusses clinical research on pesticides and metabolic health.
  • Dr. Bruce Blumberg, UC Irvine Professor of Developmental and Cell Biology and leader in the field of “obesogens” discusses the role of exposures that disrupt our endocrine systems and promote obesity.
  • Dr. John Balmes, UC San Francisco Professor gives insight on how air pollution impacts metabolic health.


Understanding policy implications and actions

  • Dr. Laura Schmidt, Professor, UCSF, Co-Director of SSEW Initiative, and expert on food policy and food environment.

If you can’t make it in person, consider watching the talks live, or logging into Facebook and visiting the UCOP Page (facebook.com/universityofcalifornia) from 12:30pm-1:00pm and ask questions to researchers during a Facebook Live Panel.
Topics include how environment, diet, and social experiences affect the health of the next generation.
Panel moderated by Elissa Epel, PhD, UCSF and includes:

  • Tracey Woodruff, PhD, UCSF Expert on how chemical exposures in pregnant women affect the next generation
  • Kimberly Harley, PhD, UCB Expert on how youth are exposed to toxic endocrine disrupting chemicals through beauty and hair products
  • Martyn Smith, PhD, UCB Will define the exposome and share how diet and environmental exposures impact cancers and child health
  • Candice Price, PhD, UCD How diets high in sugar and soda are toxics that get under the skin, leading to metabolic disease and obesity

The Exposome & Metabolic Health is sponsored by COASTSSEW, the UCSF Nutrition and Obesity Research Center, and the UCSF Environmental Health Initiative and the Center for Health and Community at UCSF.  It is led by Drs.Elissa EpelLaura Schmidt, and Samantha Schilf the Executive Director of the SSEW Initiative.