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Young Latino kids drink too many sugary fruit drinks.
Unfortunately, sugary fruit drinks that claim to be natural are often just fruit-flavored beverages that have added sugar and are just as unhealthy as soda.
This is a contributing factor to the high rates of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular issues that Latino kids often face.
That’s why there’s a new toolkit called “The Truth About Fruit Drinks” from researchers at the University of Washington, University of Pennsylvania, and Interlex Communications with support from Healthy Eating Research and the Arcora Foundation.
“This toolkit contains an evidence-based social media messaging campaign for countering beverage industry marketing and decreasing the purchase of fruit drinks by Latinx parents for their children and promoting water as a healthier beverage choice,” according to the toolkit’s website.
Learn more about the contents of this toolkit and how to share them, the impact of sugary drinks on Latino kids, and how we can curb sugary drink consumption.
What’s in the Truth About Fruit Drinks Toolkit?
Researchers tested and developed the messages and toolkit throughout 2020.
They enrolled 1,628 parents of Latino kids ages 0-5 by randomly assigned them to three groups – fruit drink countermessages only, fruit drink countermessages plus water promotion messages, and a control group where parents saw car seat safety messages.
The countermessages were modeled on branding of popular fruit drinks consumed by Latinos and were presented in both English and Spanish.
The researchers found they were successful in curbing the purchase of sugary drinks.
“Both the fruit drink messages alone, and the fruit drink messages plus water promotion messages WORKED. Parents who saw these messages were less likely to choose a fruit drink and more likely to choose water compared to parents who did not see these messages,” according to the toolkit’s website.
Now researchers want to disseminate these messages so that Latino parents everywhere can make healthier choices for their kids.
They created this social media toolkit, which contains:
- Research that backs up the efficacy of the social media messages in reducing sugary drink purchases
- Instructions on how to use the social media messages
- Sample social media messages to promote water consumption over sugary drinks
You can download and share the messages by visiting www.truthaboutfruitdrinks.com.
How Do Sugary Drinks Impact Latino Kids?
Overconsumption of sugary drinks is a big problem for kids, especially Latino youth.
“Latino kids who consumed sugary drinks had 2.3x the odds of severe obesity. Latino toddlers ages 2-4 who didn’t consume sugary drinks had 31% lower odds of obesity than those with a high intake,” according to a Salud America! research review.
Latino and Black kids are also more likely to be targeted by marketing from the beverage industry.
“On Spanish-language TV, four companies – PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Dr Pepper Snapple Group, and Innovation Ventures – were responsible for 98% of sugary drink and energy drink ad spending,” according to a report from Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity.
In their own research, the team from the Truth About Fruit Drinks had the following findings:
- Fruit drinks are the most consumed sugary beverage in young children.
- Fruit drink consumption is high among Latino children.
- Misleading marketing has led many parents to believe fruit drinks are healthy beverages, contributing to high consumption.
- Parental choices largely determine the types of drinks consumed by young children. Sugary beverage interventions must target parents’ purchasing habits and exposure to marketing.
By encouraging kids to drink more water rather than sugary fruit drinks, we can protect Latino youth health, the researchers said.
How You Can Help Reduce Sugary Drink Consumption?
We can help fight the negative consequences of overconsumption of sugary drinks.
Share and download the Truth About Fruit Drinks toolkit with Latino parents.
Here are 5 pediatrician-approved recommendations to limit sugary drinks for kids:
- Raise the price of sugary drinks.
- Reduce sugary drink marketing to children and teens.
- Remove sugary drinks from kid’s menus. Emphasize healthy drink options.
- Add accurate nutrition labels and information.
- Hospital should serve as models with policies to limit or discourage purchase of sugary drinks.
Salud America! also created an Action Pack to help school leaders push for Water Bottle Fountains. This refillable water station can boost access to water for Latino and all kids.