Soda Free Sundays – Pledging to Take a Break from Sugary Drinks

By Jennifer Trott, Associate Director – Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition

On April 27, 2011, representatives from 25 organizations throughout WA and King County, including School’s Out Washington, joined together to launch a new community-wide effort urging residents, businesses and other organizations to take a break from soda and sugary drinks for one day a week. Soda Free Sundays, supported by the Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition, aims to create awareness about sugary drinks and look for opportunities to increase access to healthier drink alternatives in homes, work, faith-based community and recreational facilities.

Over the course of the six week campaign, April 27—June 7, 2011, anyone can visit www.sodafreesundays.org to sign on and take the pledge.

Soda and other sugary drinks – including non-diet sodas, shorts drinks, energy drinks, sweetened fruit drinks and vitamin drinks – are one of the major contributors to obesity today, particularly among kids. It is easier to consume massive quantities of sugar-loaded beverages than food because they don’t make us feel full, and what’s more – they contain little or no nutritional value.

Consider the following:

In some King County communities, almost half of youth 14–18 reported drinking a soda on the previous day, with almost 20% reporting drinking 2 or more sodas. Two 20 oz servings of soda is
the recommended amount of sugar a teenager should consumer over the course of 4 days.

• Every additional daily serving of soda increases a child’s risk of obesity by 60 percent.
• Sugar-loaded beverages have replaced milk in the diets of many teens, putting them at risk for osteoporosis.
• Consumption of sugar-loaded beverages by children (1 to 5 years old) is associated with an 80-100% increased risk of cavities.

Unfortunately, cutting back on overconsumption of these drinks is not easy. Every day we are bombarded by highly effective advertisements and are faced with the lure of cheap and easily accessible sugary beverages. Soda Free Sundays recognizes that, together as a community, we can take a first step in building a healthier generation. The goal of the campaign is to make small changes that we can build on as individuals and a community, and to build on those changes to create a big impact in our lives and our community.

Here’s what you can do to join us in supporting the Soda Free Sundays Effort:
• Take the pledge as a family, school or other organization at www.sodafreesundays.org
• Download the Action Plan for Organizations and Family Action Plan to get started.
• Connect with us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SodaFreeSundays or Twitter (@SodaFreeSundays)  for tips and ideas to keep your pledge efforts going, and to tell us your own Soda Free Sundays story.
• Spread the word and challenge others to take the pledge -- on our pledge form, you will find a space for individuals to note what organization that they are pledging with - be sure to tell your members. If you get 20 or more individuals to pledge we will feature you on our website as a "Soda Free Sundays sponsor" and highlight you at our final celebration event at Seattle Center on June 7 at 11am at Seattle Center!

Questions? Want to get involved? Contact us at jen@sodafreesundays.org

Soda Free Sundays partners: The Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition (www.copcwa.org) is supporting Soda Free Sundays along with several of its partners in King County, including: American Heart Association, Seattle King County Public Health, Comprehensive Health Education Foundation, Center for Multicultural Health, Seattle Parks and Recreation, King County Academy of Family Physicians, University of Washington Center for Public Health Nutrition, American Academy of Pediatrics - WA Chapter, Group Health, King County Medical Society, Nutrition First, Feet First, Camp Fire USA Central Puget Sound, School's Out Washington, Hope Heart Institute, WA Dental Services Foundation, Washington Chapter American College of Physicians, Boys and Girls Club of King County, King County Nurses Association, MultiCare Center for Healthy Living, MultiCare, WA Dairy Council, Snohomish Health District.

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