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Playing the Blame Game with Soda

Let’s establish a few facts that will be the basis of this post:

  1. Disadvantaged populations consume soda more frequently than any other group.
  2. Increased soda consumption is also linked with minority groups, low-income status, and less education.
  3. Soda has a lot of calories and few nutrients.
  4. Consuming excess calories leads to weight gain.

Many people feel that the obesity epidemic is due to negligent behavior on the part of individuals and that any health problems that arise from poor nutrition or excess weight are that person’s problem.  That’s the stigma of obesity and you may be (unintentionally) biased.

Soda contributes empty calories and has contributed to the obesity epidemic.  Even though you may feel that people who drink 2 liters of soda a day are acting irresponsibly, you should consider this statement from David Morse, a multicultural market researcher:

Multicultural marketing is about talking to minorities… representing them, acknowledging them and showing them that you care about their business. Could soft-drink companies and others in the sugar business do a better job of promoting healthy food and beverage consumption, particularly among African Americans and Hispanics? Absolutely. Do they owe these groups an apology? I don’t think so…there are a lot of cultural barriers to getting both these groups to understand the importance of being lean”

Basically, this guy is saying that taking advantage of the disadvantaged and marketing directly to them is good business practice, even though it may be detrimental to their health.

Alice Green, the executive director for the Center for Law and Justice, has called this “environmental racism”.  And frankly, I agree.  To target specific audiences with a product that is known to negatively impact health is taking advantage of those people.  And blatantly disregarding ethical marketing strategies proves these companies are in it for the 1% – they’re concerned about their bottom line, the exec salaries and nothing else.

Those of us who are more educated or have more resources need to take a stand for what is right for everyone.  Unfortunately, given the mentality of those who purchase healthy, organic foods and beverages (those with more resources) might be too self-involved to do so.  It’s a sad state of affairs when individuals can’t band together for the greater good.  If we won’t take a stand and large corporations won’t back off, maybe Bloomberg is on the right track.  Can you think of another solution?!

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2 Comments to "Playing the Blame Game with Soda"

  1. Claudia says:

    I think Bloomberg is right because politicians and leaders have to think and act accordingly to what is good for the entire society, not one group, society has to been seen as a one. Multicultural projects is foolish when health is concern and everybody (well, I don’t) drinks that crap. Got to get things right for the benefit of everyone, got to see society (bottom to top) as one. McDonalds’ kids meals with toys remains as the most widely adopted crime against childhood health and nobody cares to outlaw it… power of money rules.

    • Kate Gardner says:

      Thanks for your comment! I’m inclined to agree with you. When health is concerned, the government (federal, state or local) needs to act in the best interest of its constituents.

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