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Reducing the consumption of soda and other sugary drinks is the goal of a new campaign to reduce diet-related disease was introduced this week by health departments in a number of major cities and the Washington-based nonprofit health advocacy group Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), along with the American Heart Association, the American Diabetes Association and other organizations.
“Life’s Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks” aims to lower average consumption of sugary drinks to about three cans per person per week by 2020. Average consumption of such beverages is currently more than twice that. According to health officials in Boston, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, San Antonio and Seattle, slashing soda consumption is one of their top strategies for lowering rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions. All of these cities, in addition 110 local and national health organizations, have adopted the campaign.
Sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories in the American diet and account for half of all added sugars consumed, notes CSPI, adding that one reason that sugary drinks are believed to be conducive to obesity is that the calories in beverages aren’t as filling as those in solid foods.
“Life’s Sweeter’s goal is to broaden the battle against sugary drinks from health experts to civic organizations, youth groups, civil rights groups and others,” said Michael F. Jacobson, CSPI executive director. “The enormous health and economic benefits that would result from drinking less ‘liquid candy’ will be supported by a broad cross-section of America. Not since the anti-tobacco campaigns has there been a product so worthy of a national health campaign.”
The campaign’s website,fewersugarydrinks.org, urges individuals and families to take the Life’s Sweeter challenge to drink fewer or no sugary drinks. Additionally, the initiative encourages employers, hospitals and government agencies to adopt policies that would lower soda consumption. As well as carbonated soda, the campaign targets fruit-flavored beverages containing little or no juice, sweetened iced teas, lemonades, energy drinks, and sports drinks.
“Campaigns like Life’s Sweeter with Fewer Sugary Drinks and our own local efforts will help raise awareness of the harmful consequences of consuming too many sugary drinks, which add empty calories to our diets, inches to our waistlines and risks to our health,” noted Dr. Jonathan Fielding, Director of Public Health and Health Officer for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
Various initiatives to reduce soda consumption are already underway in Life’s Sweeter participants Seattle, Philadelphia, Boston and San Antonio, as well as in New York and San Francisco.
CSPI is urging cities, states and health groups to consider using Food Day on Oct. 24 as an occasion to roll out other policies aimed at reducing junk food consumption in favor of healthy, sustainable fare.
Research, branding, creative development, and messaging for Life’s Sweeter were conducted by San Antonio-based advocacy marketing firm Interlex.