2011-10-28 / Community

Health Department LaunchesAnti-Sugar Campaign

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley unveiled a new Health Department education campaign that describes how drinking just one 20 ounce soda a day translates to eating 50 pounds of sugar a year. The 30-second TV spot will air on major broadcast and cable TV stations over the next two months as a stark reminder to New Yorkers about how sugary drinks can lead to obesity, which can cause diabetes, heart disease, stroke, arthritis and some cancers. This latest installment of the Department’s “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign was launched at an event in Times Square commemorating the nation’s first Food Day, a day modeled after the popular Earth Day, but focused on healthy food and eating.

“The majority of New York City adults are now overweight or obese, as are 4 in 10 elementary school children and the health consequences are staggering,” said Farley. “Sugary drinks are the largest single source of added sugar in the diet, and a child’s risk of obesity increases with every additional daily serving of a sugary drink.”

The TV spot is complemented by bilingual subway posters that ask New Yorkers to think about how far they would need to walk to burn off the calories from drinking just one sugary drink. A YouTube video shows a man taking that calorie-burning walk across town and asks, “Are You Pouring on the Pounds?”

One element of the campaign states that to burn off the 650 calories of a medium frozen vanilla coffee one would need to walk eight miles, from the Goethals Bridge to the Verrazano Bridge. The distances are based on a 160-pound person walking 3.5 mph.

There are many healthier alternatives to sugary drinks. The “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign encourages New Yorkers to avoid sugary beverages and quench their thirst with water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead.

New Yorkers are making some strides against the obesity epidemic and are beginning to turn the epidemic’s tide by consuming fewer sugary drinks, especially in some areas of the city. Between 2007 and 2010, the percentage of adults who reported on the Health Department’s annual telephone survey that they drank one or more sugary drinks a day fell from 36 percent to 30 percent. In high-poverty neighborhoods, the percentage of adults who drank one or more sugary drinks per day decreased from 44 percent in 2007 to 36 percent in 2010. Materials to support schools, organizations, and encourage New Yorkers to be “sugary drink free” are available through the Health Department.

In addition to the “Pouring on the Pounds” media campaigns, the Health Department has worked with over 400 community organizations, faith-based organizations, and businesses to adopt policies and educational campaigns, which create healthy environments by reducing sugary drink consumption at their sites. Of the nearly 200 organizations who are actively working to promote a healthier environment, 80 percent are located in the city’s highest need neighborhoods where sugary drink consumption is the highest.

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