Sugary drinks are a major contributor to preventable diseases. These chronic diseases disproportionately affect Latino and African American residents.
The Public Health Department and FIRST 5 Santa Clara County announce the launch of Cut The Sugar, a locally developed campaign to encourage residents to drink water or milk, instead of sugary drinks that are uniquely harmful to health.
The campaign is running in English and Spanish from August until October throughout the County of Santa Clara, with focus on San Jose, Morgan Hill and Gilroy. Additional contributors include SOMOS Mayfair, the campaign’s community consultant.
“The beverage industry has aggressively advertised to kids to hook them for life on unhealthy sugary drinks,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager. “The County and FIRST 5 are countering them with our own campaign by informing residents about these adverse health outcomes and encouraging behavior change.”
The campaign will be deployed through transit ads, online ads, Facebook, radio advertisements and guerilla marketing tactics in high-traffic areas.
“This campaign is an important part of the County’s investment in the health of kids and their families,” said Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese. “As a father of four, it’s important for me that my kids have the tools to make the right decisions about their health. I’m proud of the work we are doing at the County to make sure that every child can avoid the serious health problems linked to regularly drinking sugary beverages.”
As the single largest source of added sugars in the American diet, sugary drinks are a major contributor to preventable diseases like type 2 diabetes and obesity. In Santa Clara County, the Public Health Department estimates that more than half of adults have diabetes or prediabetes. Among kids, a third of Santa Clara County middle and high school students are overweight or obese.
“The burden of chronic diseases associated with sugary drinks – diabetes, obesity, and tooth decay – falls disproportionately on Latino and African American residents of our county,” said Dr. Sara Cody, County Health Officer and Public Health Department Director. “It is not coincidental that the beverage industry aggressively targets Latino and African American communities with its advertising. This is an issue of health equity that we must address head on.”
Latinx teenagers in Santa Clara County are twice as likely as White teenagers to be obese, and one in two Latinx children are at risk of developing diabetes during their lifetime.
Despite growing awareness that sugary drinks provide no nutritional benefit, roughly 15 percent of children ages 2 to 11 in Santa Clara County report consuming at least one sugary drink daily. Nearly two-thirds of adolescents in the county report consuming at least one sugary drink daily. Even if they practice good oral hygiene and get regular exercise, young children who frequently consume sugary drinks increase their risk for tooth decay, weight gain and obesity. Children who are obese are also more likely to be obese as adults.
“The first five years are the most critical time for a child’s healthy development, and the habits they create in these early years can last a lifetime,” said Jolene Smith, FIRST 5 Santa Clara County Chief Executive Officer. “Guided by our Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Strategic Plan, FIRST 5 is committed to working in partnership with families and community partners to support parents and caregivers in making healthy choices for their children, and to set a healthy example as their child’s first and most important teacher.”
The campaign directs community members to learn more at CutTheSugar.org and, in Spanish, ReducirElAzucar.org. S. Groner Associates, a California-based social marketing company, developed the advertising materials with direction from SOMOS Mayfair. They were awarded the contract through an open competition.
The Public Health Department has a longstanding commitment to encouraging the community to make healthy choices through campaigns such as Harvest of the Month and Let’s All Go to The Park. FIRST 5 believes that every child deserves a healthy start to life and supports early childhood obesity prevention efforts through strategies including public awareness campaigns and their Potter the Otter storybook series that encourages families to adopt healthy habits.