Health Education Council and Young Leaders Society Ask Students to Rethink Their Drinks
In Sacramento County, 30 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.

Success Story Written by: Erica Lee, Health Education Council

Unless you’ve been reading this blog with your eyes closed lately, you likely already know about the outstanding work the Young Leader’s Society (YLS) has done to raise more than $25,000 to support United Way’s Hydration Station Initiative in the Robla School District. What you may not know is that in order to support the use of the hydration stations, United Way has teamed up with the Health Education Council to ask Robla students and their families to Rethink Your Drink.

The Rethink Your Drink campaign, led by the California Department of Public Health, urges youth and families to make healthy drink choices by choosing water and other healthy drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages such as soda, sports drinks and energy drinks. The campaign also works to educate the public on the considerable amount of calories in sugary drinks and the link between sugary drinks and the rising rates of obesity in children.

In Sacramento County, 30 percent of children are considered overweight or obese.

Sugary drinks are the single largest source of added sugars in American diets and account for 22 percent of the empty calories consumed by children and teens.* Not only do the calories from the added sugar in sugary drinks contribute significantly to obesity**, but it also contributes to the rise of related chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes*** and heart disease.**** When you consider that 62 percent of California teens, 41 percent of children and 24 percent of adults drink one or more sugary drinks per day,***** it is easy to see the importance of campaigns such as Rethink Your Drink.

Through their partnership, United Way and the Health Education Council aim to share the Rethink Your Drink curriculum with each and every K-6 classroom throughout the Robla School District. In total, 2,500 students will receive a thirty-minute lesson. Following the lesson, students will know how to read nutrition labels and how to calculate the amount of sugar in commonly-consumed drinks. In addition to students, the partnership will educate teachers and parents!

Here are five quick and easy tips to help YOU Rethink Your Drink:
  1. Cold water is a tasty and low-cost way to quench your thirst. Fill a pitcher with tap water and keep it cool in the refrigerator.
  2. Instead of soda, order tap water at fast foods and restaurants. You’ll save on sugar consumption, calories and cash. Ask for lemons or limes for added flavor.
  3. Make a pitcher of “spa” water. Flavor a pitcher of tap water with mint leaves or rosemary and then add cut-up fruit such as watermelon, oranges or strawberries. Check out this recipe for additional ideas on flavoring your water.
  4. Make it easy for you and your kids to drink more water: slip refillable water bottles in their backpack and your purse. Your kids will be more likely to drink water if they see you doing it as well.
  5. If you miss the fizzy element of soda, try unsweetened seltzer water or unflavored sparkling water to curb that craving. Add your favorite fruit and herbs for an added bonus!


About Health Education Council
For the past 25 years, the Health Education Council has been dedicated to providing access, education, advocacy, and training to empower individuals towards a healthy life. A large part of our efforts to do so include promoting healthy eating and active living tips and tools, like Rethink Your Drink.

* Guthrie JF, Morton JF.  Food sources of added sweeteners in the diets of Americans.  Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2000; 100 (1):43-51.
** “To What Extent Have Sweetened Beverages Contributed to the Obesity Epidemic?” Public Health Nutrition, 2010.
*** Johnson R, et al. “Dietary Sugars Intake and Cardiovascular Health: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association.” Journal of the American Heart Association 2009, vol. 120, pp. 1011-1020.
**** Am J ClinNutr. 2009 Apr;89(4):1037-42. Epub 2009 Feb 11. Links Sweetened beverage consumption and risk of coronary heart disease in women. Fung TT, Malik V, Rexrode KM, Manson JE, Willett WC, Hu FB.
***** Babey SH, Jones M, Yu H, Goldstein H. Bubbling Over: Soda Consumption and Its Link to Obesity in California. UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and California Center for Public Health Advocacy, 2009.