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12/4/2012 12:36:00 PM
The Soda Wars: The Battle to Reduce Sugary Drink Consumption
Information provided by the Center for Prevention and Health Promotion, Oregon Public Health Division

It is a war zone out there!
Children and adults alike are bombarded with advertisements for sugary drinks at every possible juncture including TV, radio, product placements, banner ads, social media, mobile media, and even in our schools. Sugary drinks, such as soda, sports drinks, lemonade, sweetened teas, energy drinks, and juice drinks, are associated with 90% of ads in the school environment. The money spent on advertising sugary drinks is staggering. In 2006, beverage companies spent $3.2 billion marketing carbonated beverages, with nearly a half billion dollars directly aimed about children ages 2-17.

Marketing of sugary drinks works.
Beverage and food marketing influence children’s preferences, their purchase requests and consumption. Not surprisingly, consumption of sugary drinks has increased over the last 30 years among both children and adults. Sugary drinks are the biggest contributor of added sugars to the American diet – just one drink can have more added sugar than most should consume in an entire day. Drinking just one sugary drink a day increases a child’s odds of becoming obese by 60 percent, potentially leading to obesity and related conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

There have been several efforts nationally and locally to raise awareness and ultimately change the social norm around sugary drinks consumption. Many Oregon school districts have made steps to remove soda machines or stock them with healthier options such as low fat milk, water, or 100% fruit juice. Their motivation is not only to protect the health of their students, staff, and visitors but also to comply with HB 2650, an Oregon law that sets nutrition standards for food and beverages sold outside the national school breakfast and lunch programs.

Schools, teachers and parents can also:
• Ensure vending machines in hallways, cafeterias, and classrooms comply with HB 2650.
• Model healthy behavior for youth by not drinking sugary drinks and especially in front of children.
• Remove vending machines that sell sugary drinks throughout the entire school including teacher’s lounge and athletic facilities.
• Eliminate advertising for sugary drinks on classrooms, hallways, on vending machines, cafeterias, and athletic fields.
• Sell healthy beverages, including diet drinks and water, at fundraisers and extracurricular activities such as plays and athletic events.
• Serve healthy beverages, such as water with fruit added, at classroom celebrations.
• Sell reusable mugs, cups, or water bottles with a school logo to encourage filling up from water stations or the water fountain.
• Support strategies to change the social norm around sugary drink consumption.
• Write these strategies around fundraising, marketing, and classroom celebrations into your School Wellness Policy.
• Contact beverage companies and tell them to stop marketing sugary drinks directly to children and teens.

Multipronged strategies to improve beverage environments and behaviors are needed to reverse the obesity epidemic and win the battle over sugary drinks. Reducing sugary drink consumption is not the only solution to solve childhood obesity, but it certainly is a great place to start!

For more information contact Kim La Croix at 971-673-0606 or Kimberly.w.lacroix@state.or.us eMail.

For more information see the following resources:
Institute of Medicine. Accelerating Progress in Obesity Prevention
Yale Rudd Center-Sugary Drink Facts
Healthy Drinks-The Nutrition Source-Harvard School of Public Health

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