Big Tobacco companies bought up sugary drink companies - and they used the same tactics that made cigarettes appeal to children to get them to want soda and juice, a new study reveals.
The same additives used in cigarettes to control their color and flavor work in beverages, tobacco executives realized.
A new University of California, San Francisco, study uses secret documents bequeathed to the school as part of lawsuit to follow the insidious marketing plans Big Tobacco used to sell children fattening drinks.
The study serves as evidence that Big Tobacco plays an out-sized role in not one but two of the biggest health epidemics in the US: smoking and obesity.
Big Tobacco companies RJ Reynolds and Philip Morris bought up sweet drink companies, realizing they could use flavor, color and mascot strategies from their cigarettes to hook kids on sugary beverages like Kool-Aid
Growing scientific evidence suggests that the earlier children start drinking sugary beverages, the more likely they are to become overweight and/or diabetic.
Over 18 percent of American youth are estimated to be obese, raising their risks of chronic disease and premature death.
That isn't much less than the 29 percent of high school seniors that reported smoking daily in 1976.
And new research suggests that might not be entirely a coincidence.
'Once you see the world through the eyes of a tobacco executive you start to see that a sweet beverage is not that different from a cigarette,' explains lead study author Dr Laura Schmidt, a UCSF health policy professor.
'It's very few ingredients, they're highly processed and there can be a lot of variability in the product lines that comes down to colors and flavors.
'And who likes those? Little kids.'
Philip Morris and RJ Reynolds realized that the substances they used to make cigarettes appeal to kids and adults alike would also enhance drinks.
So the tobacco giants bought up food and beverage