Soft drinks, celebrities and children

M Zahidul Haque
Celebrities, sports figures all over the world are participating in making promos for different brands of soft drinks for which companies pay them handsome amount. Promotional advertisements of soft drinks are now found in every media – television, newspapers and billboards. As history reveals, advertisements of a popular soft drink (Coca Cola) was first published in the USA’s Atlanta Journal in 1886 carrying promotional texts like-‘refreshing’ ‘delicious’. But a question arises – how much these soft drinks are beneficial to human health, particularly of children?
Nowadays not only the elders frequently drink soft drinks but they also encourage their children to drink these. In reality, soft drinks contain high sugar, dissolved carbon dioxide, caffeine, preservatives, etc. which can among other health problems cause over-weight, type-II diabetes, heart diseases, asthma. In children, soft drink contributes to the development of obesity, dental problems; recent research findings revealed that soft drinks can cause behavioural changes in children, develop aggression and attention problem. If we recall the cigarettes advertisements, it would be found that in the beginning, it was stated that smoking of cigarettes is stimulating and refreshing. Later it was proved through research that smoking of cigarettes causes several health problems including lung cancer. Now advertisement of cigarettes is banned on both print and electronic platforms.
I think that promotional advertisements on soft drinks should be controlled and motivating children to soft drink consumption should be discouraged considering health issues and well-being of children. Even bottled fruit drinks should not be served rather the children should be served with fresh fruit juices.
(Author: Professor, Department of Agricultural Extension & Information System, Sher-e-Bangla Agricultural University, Dhaka.)