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Red Bull denies child marketing claims in new study

By Guy Montague-Jones, 03-Jun-2011

Related topics: Regulation & Safety

A widely publicised journal article attacking the marketing of energy and sports drinks to children and teenagers fails to recognise that youngsters are not the target of campaigns, claims Red Bull.

The report published by the American Academy of Pediatrics made headlines across the globe this week, highlighting the health risks of energy and sports drinks for young people.

Energy drinks were picked out for the strongest criticism. “Stimulant containing energy drinks have no place in the diets of children or adolescents,” concluded the authors.

Marketed at children?

And yet, the scientists claimed that the drinks continue to be targeted at young people. They began their report by stating: “Sports and energy drinks are being marketed to children and adolescents for a variety of inappropriate uses.”

But Red Bull claims this is not the case. “We do not market our product to children and other caffeine sensitive people,” said the leading energy drinks brand, which also claimed that the industry as a whole has taken action to stamp out marketing to children.

“The authors of this report seem to be unaware that the American Beverage Association (ABA) and also the European Beverage Association (UNESDA) have already agreed codes of practice for the marketing and labelling of energy drinks,” said Red Bull.

For example, UNESDA published guidelines within the last year requiring members to state on labels that energy drinks are not suitable for children.

But the American Academy of Pediatrics claims that industry rules have not gone far enough to stop inappropriate marketing.

Pointing to the US, the report authors said: “Having agreed voluntarily to phase out full-calorie sodas from schools by the 2009-2010 school year, beverage manufacturers are heavily promoting sports drinks as a healthier alternative.”

They criticised the promotion of sports drinks to young people adding that routine consumption increases obesity and dental health risks.

Source: Pediatrics
Published online May 29, 2011; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-0965
“Sports Drinks and Energy Drinks for Children and Adolescents: Are They Appropriate ?”
Authors: Committee on Nutrition and the Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness at the American Academy of Pediatrics