The chal­lenge is on

Con­test urges Is­lan­ders to cut back on sug­ary drinks

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - HEALTH/COMMUNITY -

The Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion, in part­ner­ship with the P.E.I. Healthy Eat­ing Al­liance and go! PEI, is pre­par­ing for the Fe­bru­ary launch of Count Your Cubes: The Sug­ary Drink Chal­lenge.

Sup­ported by the pro­vin­cial govern­ment’s 2015 P.E.I. Well­ness Strat­egy Grant Ini­tia­tive, it will en­cour­age Is­lan­ders to re­duce the amount of sugar they con­sume in sweet­ened bev­er­ages. The Den­tal As­so­ci­a­tion of P.E.I. and the P.E.I. Phar­ma­cists As­so­ci­a­tion are also sup­port­ing the pro­ject by dis­tribut­ing pro­mo­tional post­cards to clients and pa­tients.

Sug­ary drinks are the largest con­trib­u­tors of sugar in the diet. In P.E.I., 67 per cent of youth re­ported drink­ing sweet­ened, non-nu­tri­tious bev­er­ages at least once the pre­vi­ous day (School Health Ac­tion Plan­ning and Eval­u­a­tion Sys­tem Sur­vey, 2012-2013). Sug­ary drinks and ex­cess sugar con­sump­tion are as­so­ci­ated with chronic dis­eases, in­clud­ing obe­sity, heart dis­ease, stroke and di­a­betes.

The Count Your Cubes 28-day chal­lenge will en­cour­age peo­ple to use a sim­ple track­ing cal­en­dar to track and re­duce the num­ber of sugar cubes they’re con­sum­ing in com­mon bev­er­ages like pop, juice, sports drinks and vi­ta­min wa­ters.

Kur­tis Jay, a Heart and Stroke Foun­da­tion vol­un­teer and a Hol­land Col­lege stu­dent, knows first-hand the ben­e­fits of re­duc­ing the con­sump­tion of sug­ary drinks.

“Since cut­ting out sug­ary drinks, I have found a big dif­fer­ence in my health. I don’t feel slug­gish or con­stantly thirsty. Con­sum­ing fewer sug­ary drinks and more wa­ter also helps me to con­trol my weight, adds to my mus­cle tone and my over­all health in gen­eral.”

Count Your Cubes will be launched Feb. 1. For the first week, par­tic­i­pants will track how much sugar they are cur­rently drink­ing, us­ing a chart to count the num­ber of cubes in com­mon bev­er­ages like pop, juice and sports drinks. Then over the next three weeks they will at­tempt to re­duce the amount of sugar they drink, week by week. At the con­clu­sion of the chal­lenge, prizes of a $100 Sobeys gift card and two $50 Indigo gift cards will be awarded.

The Chief Pub­lic Health Of­fice of the Depart­ment of Health and Well­ness is sup­port­ing this pro­ject as one of the Well­ness Grants awarded in 2015. One of the goals of the pro­vin­cial Well­ness Strat­egy is to in­crease healthy eat­ing be­hav­iours of Is­lan­ders and specif­i­cally to look at how to de­crease added sugar in their di­ets.

To sign up for the Count Your Cubes Chal­lenge, email info@coun­ty­our­cubes.ca. For more in­for­ma­tion on the ini­tia­tive, visit gopei.ca/chal­lenges.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

A young pa­tient and his father re­ceive in­for­ma­tion about Count Your Cubes at the Belvedere Den­tal Clinic. From left are Ross Bur­ton, Colton Bur­ton and Dr. Mike Con­nolly.

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