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Physical Activity and Nutrition

Key Initiatives


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School Health Program

Get out and Play Every Day!

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3601 C Street, Suite 722
Anchorage AK 99503
Fax: 907-269-5446

Physical Activity and Nutrition - Sugary Drinks

Reducing Sugary Drink Consumption

Alaska projects that promote water and low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks

Many Alaskans are drinking too many sugary drinks, and they’re consuming them every day. Sugar is hidden in many types of drinks, including soda, sports and energy drinks, powdered mixes, fruit drinks, vitamin-enhanced drinks, and sweetened coffee and tea.

Sugary drinks can lead to serious health problems for Alaskans, even during childhood:

  • unhealthy weight gain
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • tooth decay

Pediatricians, pediatric dentists, and dietitians agree children ages 2–5 should drink only water and low-fat milk. Sugary drinks are not recommended for children ages 5 and younger.

For the best health, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend children younger than 2 have foods and drinks without any added sugar. The guidelines recommend that older children and adults limit added sugar to a small amount — less than 10 percent of the total calories they consume every day. That means an adult consuming 2,000 calories a day should limit daily added sugar to 200 calories or 50 grams of sugar —which is the same as 12 ½ teaspoons of sugar. A child consuming fewer calories a day should have even fewer teaspoons of added sugar.

Just one sweetened drink — such as one bottle of soda with 16 teaspoons of sugar — can have more added sugar than anyone should have in one day. Despite the recommended daily sugar limits, many Alaskans are drinking sodas and sugary beverages every day.

  • About 20% of Alaska adults and almost 50% of Alaska high school students drink one of more sugary beverages every day. (2019 BRFSS, 2019 YRBS)
  • 29% of Alaska 3-year-olds drink some amount of sugary beverages every day. (2019 Alaska Childhood Understanding Behaviors Survey)
Play Every Day Button  

Play Every Day

Since 2012, the Department of Health and Social Services has run a statewide public education campaign to help Alaska children grow up at a healthy weight and prevent weight-related diseases like type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer. Play Every Day focuses on two key health behaviors:

The campaign uses many strategies to reduce sugary drink consumption. It has created multiple video public service announcements that have aired statewide. It has printed educational posters and handouts and shared them with schools, preschools, child care centers, tribal and public health centers, and medical and dental clinics across the state.

Play Every Day Contact:

Ann Potempa, MPH
Play Every Day Coordinator

Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids

Sugary Drink Provider Guide

The Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids project was a two-year pilot funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to improve dental health and prevent obesity and other chronic diseases in Alaska. The project trained dental health professionals to use a guide called When Sugar Is Not So Sweet – A Brief Guide to Explain How Sugary Drinks Can Harm Your Health. The guide helps dentists and other dental and medical professionals talk with families about the large amount of sugar hiding in drinks, the health risks linked to that added sugar, and steps families can take to cut back on sugary drinks and choose water or milk instead.

School Wellness Policies

The state’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program supports school districts that are working toward approving wellness policies that reduce or eliminate sugary drinks sold to children at school. A model wellness policy is available to support the adoption of Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards.

Webpage updated January 2022