As Michael Moss writes in "Salt Sugar Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us" (click here to read a New York Times Magazine article adapted from the book), the junk food companies vehemently target their products to lower-income and immigrant populations in order to increase sales.
There are several explanations as to why this marketing is so penetrating—lack of education about the products, lower price (short term, not long term), convenience (it's not very convenient, though, to have body parts amputated because of diabetes)—but we know it works.
A friend, unfortunately, was recently on the losing side of this equation. He has an 18-month-old daughter who he and his wife entrust with a caregiver while they work 60- to 70-hour weeks.
The woman, foreign-born, is under strict orders to give the girl only water to drink. However, the other day, my friend heard his daughter say the word for juice in the caregiver's language. One thing led to another and he found out that his girl was drinking Country Time Lemonade ("juice").
He was incredulous, but I'll spare you the details.
More important, I'll reiterate my question: In what universe—except one grossly exploited and manipulated by calculated, scientific marketing—would Country Time Lemonade be considered both juice and appropriate for an 18-month-old?
I firmly believe that we are in dire need of a sweetened drink tax (for sodas, sports drinks, fruit drinks, etc.) or other serious governmental intervention in regard to junk food to help counter the insidious marketing that so plagues this country. Left to their own devices, the junk food companies will continue to unabashedly corrupt our children's health, no matter what morality dictates.
To argue that people should be smarter about the choices they make is, I believe, misguided. Does anyone really believe that the caregiver would mechanically dispense Country Time Lemonade if she knew its true constitution and dangers?
By the way, Country Time Lemonade's (lemon-less) ingredients are:
Sugar, fructose, citric acid, contains less than 2% of maltodextrin, natural flavor, ascorbic acid (vitamin c), sodium acid pyrophosphate, sodium citrate, magnesium oxide, calcium fumarate, soy lecithin, artificial color, yellow 5 lake, tocopherol (preserves freshness).Click here to learn how to make lemonade from lemons. Click here to read about the dangers of petroleum-based artificial colors.