New cam­paign aims to re­duce sug­ary drink con­sump­tion

The Compass - - Editorial - BY KENN OLIVER SALTWIRE NETWORK

If you’re read­ing this while drink­ing a can of soda, a sports drink or even a bot­tle of juice, take a look at the nu­tri­tional facts printed on the side.

How many grams of sugar are in your bev­er­age? Chances are if it’s one of the drinks listed above, it’s more than 30 grams.

Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Wrong. Ev­ery four grams is the equiv­a­lent to one sugar cube. Start­ing Mon­day, the Cana­dian Heart & Stroke Foun­da­tion will kick off a cam­paign aimed at ed­u­cat­ing the pub­lic about ex­actly how much sugar they’re putting in their bod­ies by way of com­monly con­sumed bev­er­ages.

Ul­ti­mately, the goal of the Count Your Cube Sug­ary Drinks Chal­lenge is to re­duce the con­sump­tion of liq­uids that stud­ies sug­gest will re­sult in more than 63,000 deaths and cost the Cana­dian health-care sys­tem more than $50 bil­lion over the next 25 years.

“In­creas­ing pub­lic aware­ness is im­por­tant be­cause sug­ary drinks are the sin­gle largest con­trib­u­tor of sugar in the diet,” said Julie Ni­cholas, the Heart & Stroke Foun­da­tion’s di­rec­tor of health pro­mo­tion and gov­ern­ment re­la­tions.

Ni­cholas said it’s es­pe­cially im­por­tant in this prov­ince, which leads the coun­try in obe­sity rates at 30 per cent, with 46.6 per cent of youth be­tween the ages of 12 and 19 over­weight.

New­found­land and Labrador Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent-elect Dr. Lynn Dwyer says com­pa­nies that pro­duce the bev­er­ages try to sug­gest the obe­sity is due to in­ac­tiv­ity and lack of ex­er­cise. While that is cer­tainly a fac­tor, it’s only part of the prob­lem, she says.

Other part­ners in­clude the pro­vin­cial divi­sion of the Cana­dian Cancer So­ci­ety, the New­found­land and Labrador Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion, and the New­found­land and Labrador Den­tal Hy­gien­ists As­so­ci­a­tion.

Over the course of a month, par­tic­i­pants are asked to keep track of how many cubes of sugar they’re con­sum­ing each day. In the first week, they make no changes to their drink diet. In the sub­se­quent three weeks, they’re chal­lenged to con­sume fewer sugar cubes than the first week by mak­ing health­ier bev­er­age choices.

At coun­ty­our­cubes.ca, peo­ple, fam­i­lies or groups can take part by ei­ther cre­at­ing an on­line ac­count or by print­ing a copy of the tracker. At the end of the chal­lenge, they can email or fax their tracker to the Heart & Stroke Foun­da­tion for a chance at prizes. The dead­line for sub­mis­sions is June 30.

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