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Help active children avoid sugary drinks’ dangers

Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D., is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. Email questions to youdocsdaily@sharecare.com.

QUESTION: My son and his bicycling and skateboarding buds have fallen under the spell of marketing campaigns for sodas and power and sports drinks.

I can’t get it through their heads that these companies aren’t really concerned with their health or athletic prowess.

Any tips on how to convince them they’re being used? — Pamela B., Los Angeles

ANSWER: Yes, we have an idea or two, if you can get your son and his friends to sit still and listen for a minute.

Consider these facts: According to a new study from the University of California, San Francisco, R.J. Reynolds (Camel cigarettes) and Philip Morris (Marlboro cigarettes) bought the beverage product lines Hawaiian Punch, Kool-Aid, plus a few more, and modeled their sugary beverage marketing strategies after their very successful cigarette marketing strategies from the 1960s and 1970s.

Those ad campaigns built brand-name allegiances with young smokers. Remember Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man?

These marketing people know what they’re doing, and they are very successful at selling people things that are not in their own best interest.

Around 1983, R.J Reynolds, after successfully marketing Hawaiian Punch, introduced the first juice box as the “handy little carton (with) its very own straw.”

Sales jumped 34%, according to industry documents released by the UCSF Documents Library. Phillip Morris created the Kool-Aid Man mascot that also targeted kids.

Marketing sugary beverages to children has long-term consequences: It puts kids at high risk for obesity, and premature metabolic syndrome, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Once you run this info by the kids, make sure to offer them alternatives. Make homemade fizzy water or still water with natural flavoring from slices of lemons, limes or oranges; or buy electrolyte replacement tablets with no added sugar or artificial colorings (they make them these days) for effective hydration during long, hot summer days at the skate park.

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