Field Notes

Marketing of Energy Drinks Placed on TV Channels
that Appeal to Teens

Though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises against the consumption of energy drinks by teens, researchers at Dartmouth’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center found that manufacturers market the bulk of their products on television channels that likely appeal to teen audiences. First author Jennifer Emond, PhD, and collaborators expanded their ongoing work on risk behaviors among teens and looked at the patterns of energy drink ad placements on TV over one year. They published their findings, “Patterns of Energy Drink Advertising Over US Television Networks,” in the Journal of Nutrition Education Behavior.

“These findings are relevant to anyone concerned about child health,” Emond says. “Results are also useful to inform the current regulatory debates regarding a ban on the marketing of energy drinks to adolescents. Our study was the first to quantify airtime devoted to energy drink ads on national network and cable television, and results suggest that energy drink manufacturers could alter their placement of ads on TV to avoid reaching a teen audience.”

The AAP advises against energy drink use among children and adolescents because it may result in serious health consequences for some youths. In addition, mixing energy drinks with alcohol is common practice. A previous study conducted by the Dartmouth group demonstrated that adolescents who had mixed energy drinks with alcohol at any point were four times as likely to engage in binge drinking as their peers who had never mixed energy drinks with alcohol.

The Dartmouth group assessed airtime over a one-year period and described programming themes for the 10 channels found to have the most advertising time devoted to energy drinks. Results demonstrated that energy drink manufacturers placed the bulk of their advertising on channels that were likely to appeal to adolescents. Six of the 10 channels with the most airtime included adolescents aged 12 to 17 in their base audience.

“These findings are unique because they demonstrate that energy drink manufacturers advertised primarily on television channels that are likely to be popular with adolescents,” Emond explains. “Parents should be aware that their children are exposed to energy drink advertisements when viewing certain channels.”

Looking forward, Emond and her colleagues are focusing on energy drink marketing in venues outside of television. The Dartmouth group notes that energy drink manufacturers often use nontraditional marketing techniques such as point-of-sale promotions, which they will compare to purchase behaviors of adolescents in an upcoming study.

Emond is an instructor in Community & Family Medicine at Dartmouth’s Geisel School of Medicine. James Sargent, MD, is the Scott M. and Lisa G. Stuart professor of pediatric oncology, and co-director of Norris Cotton Cancer Center’s Cancer Control Research Program. Diane Gilbert-Diamond, ScD is assistant professor of epidemiology, and Community & Family Medicine, and a member of the Cancer Control Research Program.

— Source: Dartmouth Norris Cotton Cancer Center


Diet Rich in Methionine — Found Most Abundantly in Eggs, Fish and Meats — May Promote Memory Loss

Memory loss recently has been associated with excessive silencing of genes through a process called methylation. Researchers at the University of Louisville investigated the effects of a diet rich in methionine—an amino acid most abundant in eggs, fish, and meats—on memory loss. They found that the diet promoted memory loss through increased methylation of netrin, a protein important for maintaining the brain.

Anuradha Kalani presented “Epigenetic Silencing of Netrin Is Associated With Memory Loss by High Methionine, Low Folate and Vitamin B6/B12 Containing Diet” as part of a featured topic session “Diet, Nutrition and Adipose Tissue: You Are What You Eat” on March 31 and at a poster session the same day at the Experimental Biology Meeting held in Boston.

Kalani and her colleagues fed mice a diet containing high amounts of methionine and low amounts of folate and vitamins B6 and B12. They measured the mice’s memory capability along with netrin and methylation levels in the mice’s brains. They found that the longer the mice were on the diet, the less netrin was expressed and the more the netrin gene was methylated. According to the researchers, the data confirm that a high-methionine diet induces learning and memory defects, and that memory loss appears associated with reduced levels of netrin because of its over-methylation.

“Studies have shown that a healthful diet can boost memory,” the researchers say. “On the contrary, our study’s findings interestingly suggest that a diet rich in methionine—for example, red meat and some fish—actually can increase the risk for memory loss. Mice were fed an excess methionine diet and examined for memory function weekly. Our findings suggest that an excess methionine diet caused memory impairment and hyper-methylation that affected netrin expression, which is a protein important in maintaining synaptic plasticity and involved in axonal guidance and neurogenesis.

“We further introduced netrin intracerebrally into the mice to confirm the association of netrin with memory loss. Mice were examined thrice a week post-netrin injection. The data suggest that netrin introduction helped in ~50% memory regain in mice on the diet. We’re looking further into epigenetic factors like microRNA and other downstream genes that could be associated with memory loss.”

— Source: American Physiological Society