Sunday, August 24, 2008

Alameda County keeps kids soda free

By Kevin L. Nichols

The Alameda County Public Health Department’s Nutrition Services division recently concluded its second annual Soda Free Summer campaign. Soda Free is a 10-week campaign geared toward educating and empowering young people and their families to reduce and/or eliminate various products containing high concentrations of sugar and fructose corn syrup. The first culprit that they attack is soda.

The three leading causes of death in Alameda County are heart disease, cancer and stroke, which are all inextricably tied to lack of physical activity and poor nutrition. Staggeringly, Americans are estimated to consume approximately 175 pounds of sugar and 20 gallons of soda a year.

Soda Free’s slogan, “Rethink Your Drink,” raises awareness of the excessive consumption of sugar-concentrated products, especially soda. Decreasing sugar calories and increasing mobility strengthens the heart and other vital organs, reduces weight gain and reduces the risks of developing diabetes and other illnesses.

According to Diane Woloshin, the Alameda County Health Department's Nutritional Services director, families are encouraged to use the Soda Free Summer tracking log, which suggests alternatives to soda and provides space to track the number of days they are soda free. Soda Free Summer participants can also become eligible to win a host of incentive prizes including a grocery shopping spree.

Soda Free is part of the Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative, which is made possible by a $50,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente, as well as other contributions by The Health Trust, Alameda County Public Health Department, Shape Up San Francisco, First 5 San Francisco, First 5 Santa Clara and the Network for a Healthy California through the USDA.
For more information about Soda Free and the Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative, visit http://www.sodafreesummer.org/.

Kevin L. Nichols is an author and the president/CEO of KLN Publishing, located in San Francisco. For more information, visit http://klnpublishingllc.blogspot.com/.

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