Vital to Our Nation: Reducing Sugary Drinks
I am encouraged by the sea change in our country – driven by many of you – to decrease consumption of sugary drinks. This week in Circulation, a journal of the American Heart Association, you will find a commentary that celebrates the many policy initiatives already in place that we believe are making an impact on consumer behavior. From the massive public education campaigns to limiting sugary drinks in schools, child care centers, worksites, and restaurants, public health advocates are making healthy choices easier. From Berkeley to Navajo Nation to Mexico and beyond, sugary drink taxes have the potential to reduce consumption further. As advocates, whatever type of campaign you are driving, evaluation is a must. Without it, we lack the basic evidence needed by others across our nation to figure out what strategies work best.
As we move forward, there are three things I’d ask all of you to be sure to include in your efforts. First, while soda consumption is declining, other sugary drinks are on the rise. We need to be vigilant in educating the public that sugary drinks are not just sodas, but include sports drinks, sweet tea, energy drinks and fruit-flavored drinks. Second, our knowledge about the link between sugar-sweetened beverages and heart disease is stronger than ever. We used to talk about the connection of sugary drinks and obesity, but now it’s even more important that we inform the public of the direct link to heart disease as well as type 2 diabetes and tooth decay. As we enter American Heart Month, please keep this conversation going. Last but not least, the support for taxing sugary drinks is growing around the globe. The results from Mexico are a boon to our work and just this week the World Health Organization’s Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity’s Final Report urged nations to implement an effective tax on sugary drinks.
Keep up the good work – as we continue to drive healthy changes!