It’s just one sugary drink for your child. That can’t be so bad, right?
But week after week, year after year, the effects of all that sugar add up.
Sugary drinks can lead to type 2 diabetes. They can destroy your children’s teeth.
These are the opening lines of a new educational video that is being shared with parents across Alaska this fall to motivate families to drink fewer sugary drinks for the best health. This video and other educational materials are part of a new partnership between Alaska Department of Health and Social Services program directors working on obesity prevention and dental health. These programs have a similar goal: reduce sugary drink consumption among Alaska families to improve the health of their entire bodies — from their mouths to their waistlines to the health of their hearts and blood vessels. Sugary drinks include sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, powdered mixes, sports and energy drinks, sweetened coffees and teas, vitamin drinks, and soda.
This two-year pilot Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids project is being 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 pilot is supported by the Alaska Dental Society and dental providers across the state. In Alaska, about 1 out of 3 children is overweight or obese. About 2 out of 3 adults are overweight or obese. During the 2010-11 school year, dentists under contract with the Alaska Oral Health Program examined the teeth of young children in Alaska and found 41% of kindergartners had a filling or an untreated cavity on at least one tooth at the time of the screening. Rates of past or present cavities were even higher in third-graders, with 62% of students having past or present decay on at least one tooth at the time of the screening.
Reducing sugary drink consumption can help Alaskans improve their health, given that many Alaskans drink too many sugary beverages and they’re drinking them every single day. Just one sugary drink — such as one 20-ounce bottle of soda with 16 teaspoons of sugar — has more added sugar than people should have in one day based on the added sugar limits in the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
• About 23% of Alaska adults and 42% of Alaska high school students drink one of more sodas or sugary drinks every day (2015 BRFSS, 2015 YRBS)
• One out of 5 Alaska parents of elementary-age children serves their children a sugary drink every day, and two out of three parents serve their kids sugary drinks one or more times each week. (2014 Play Every Day Statewide Telephone Survey)
Beginning this month, Alaskans will see new public education materials focused on reducing sugary drink consumption. They will see two public service announcements airing on television and online. One video announcement shows how cutting back on sugary drinks can help prevent serious health problems, including tooth decay and type 2 diabetes. The other video shows parents switching out unhealthy food items for healthier options at meals, but stresses that parents would be doing more to protect their children’s health if they also stopped serving them sugary drinks and served water or low-fat milk instead. Parents and their children also will see educational posters hanging in hundreds of schools across Alaska, as well as in public health centers, medical and dental clinics, and in Women, Infants, and Children offices. Alaskans will find related videos and educational posts on social media.
The Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids project will include a special guide to help dentists and dental hygienists have a brief conversation with young Alaska children and their parents during routine dental exams about the health harms of sugary drinks. The guide will help dental providers ask their patients about sugary drinks, advise patients to reduce consumption, and assist these patients in coming up with a plan to reduce the sugary drinks in their diets and replace them with water and milk.
To learn more about this partnership, visit the Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids project or contact firstname.lastname@example.org.