A reduction in sugary drinks to improve health
Public Health Campaign Cut Consumption of sugary drinks
A public health campaign to reduce sugary drink consumption led to a significant drop in sales of the beverages in a Maryland county, a new report says. Sodas and other drinks with added sugars are a leading source of empty calories among Americans, and high sugar intake is associated with obesity and increased risk of heart disease. In 2012, the Horizon Foundation and several community partners launched a program of public education and policy measures to get people in Howard County to cut back on sugary sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, fruit drinks and flavored water/teas. The policy measures included reducing availability of sugary drinks in schools and child care centers and making healthier beverages and foods more widely available on local government property. Between 2012 and 2015, sales of sugar-sweetened soda in the county fell nearly 20 percent by volume, while sales of fruit-flavored beverages with added sugars fell about 15 percent. The study was presented this week at the American Heart Association’s annual meeting, in New Orleans. The findings show “that a public health campaign combining community-wide education, policy changes and culture-shifting efforts can significantly reduce sugary drink sales,” said Marlene Schwartz. She’s director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut. “Through complementary strategies from advocating for changes to child care nutrition standards to creating TV ads, ‘Howard County Unsweetened’ made a concerted effort to encourage families to switch their drinks,” she said in an AHA news release.