If you’re reading this in Texas, you’re bringing up your children in one of the country’s most obese states, so that’s the bad news. The good news is Texas, and Austin specifically, are also home to two new campaigns with the potential to help change that.
It’s Time, Texas is working to unite Texas communities around a single cause: demanding a healthier future. One vehicle for that is a partnership with H-E-B that pits cities, including Austin and Pflugerville, in friendly competition against each other to see which can rise to the challenge of doing more to promote good health.
Want to know why I think Austin might have a good chance of winning? Last month, Dr. Stephen Pont, the medical director for Austin Independent School District and Dell Children’s Center, helped launch an incredibly important public education effort, called the No Soda Challenge. The goal is for kids and their families to abstain from drinking soda, Monday through Friday throughout the school year. The No Soda Challenge is designed to raise awareness and teach kids that soda is a treat, not an everyday drink, because a lot of people don’t know how many unexplained pounds mount from even a single soda a day.
Few parents know about the research on sugary drinks, but here’s a snapshot of 10 reasons to take the challenge:
- 43% of the uptick in all calories children and adults have started taking in over the last thirty years is due to one thing: sugary drinks.
- Americans’ consumption of sugary drinks has more than doubled in the past four decades, and it is no coincidence obesity has gone up at the same time.
- Carbonated soft drinks provide 7% of the nation’s calories daily; adding noncarbonated sugary drinks, like sweet teas and sports drinks, brings the number to 9%.
- Teenagers get 13% of their calories from soft drinks, meaning at least that much of their total energy comes from empty calories that offer zero nutritional value and don’t even fill them up. (Since sugary drinks don’t make us feel less hungry the way food does, kids who drink these are missing nature’s clue to put on the brakes.)
- A 32-ounce Coke has more calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
- To work off 310 calories from a single large Coke, a child would have to run 30 minutes at a 9-minute mile pace.
- Lots of Texas teens are drinking way more soda than their parents know: one recent study found a third of teens have three or more sodas a day.
- Just 1-2 sugary drinks per day increase the risk of type 2 diabetes 26%.
- Today 23% of U.S. teens are diabetic or pre-diabetic–a huge jump from previous years and a big reason why this generation of kids is predicted to be sicker than previous generations.
- The food and beverage industry spends more marketing these products to children than they do for any other category of products. Over $2 billion per year is spent marketing sugary drinks directly to kids.
Convinced yet? Will you take the pledge and sign on to the No Soda Challenge? What other ideas do you have to tackle better health with your family? Does the idea motivate you enough to sign on and help your city win the It’s Time, Texas – Healthy at H-E-B Community Challenge?
Written by: Lauren Dimitry, Health Policy Coordinator for Texans Care for Children.