Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Oxnard and Port Hueneme

VC Star – Children challenged to rethink their drinks

Posted in Uncategorized by BGCOP Staff on June 22, 2010

A campaign to educate children about healthy alternatives to sugary drinks was launched Monday at the Boys & Girls Club in Oxnard.

Representatives of the Network for a Healthy California, Gold Coast Region, joined forces with Ventura County Public Health officials for the Rethink Your Drink Campaign, challenging youngsters to replace at least one sugary drink a day with milk or water.

“We’re doing this because the average America consumes a hundred pounds of sugar a year and that’s about a quarter of a pound a day and much of that sugar comes from beverages they are drinking,” said JoAnn Torres, the network’s regional collaborative coordinator.

Pediatrician Dr. Heather Nichols spoke to the 100 or so kids gathered in the club’s gymnasium on West Fifth Street about the need to cut sugar from their diets. She said she sees the harm too much sugar can do every day at her practice at Santa Paula Clinic West.

“Obesity is such a problem and it keeps growing in Ventura County,” she said. ”Our rates of diabetes are higher and higher all the time. I see children every day with complaints of hip, knee and ankle pain just from their obesity plus sleep apnea and difficulty breathing at night.”

Health officials set up information stations explaining the need to eat fresh fruit and vegetables, the importance of exercise and how to tell how much sugar is in beverages from reading their nutrition labels.

On one table, several popular beverages including energy drinks, bottled tea and vitamin waters were laid out along with a bag showing the equivalent amount of sugar contained in each can or bottle.

“Even your vitamin water, which might seem to be a healthy drink, has nine teaspoons of sugar in it,” said Torres.

After some words of encouragement from U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, who dropped by to lend her support to the campaign, the children filled out a pledge card and were given a form on which to track their beverage consumption during the next eight weeks.

“I think soda’s not a very good thing if its going to ‘sugarize’ us, but it still tastes good,” said Ryan De La Cruz, 10. “I think it’s OK to drink it once in awhile, just not all the time.”

“It’s good that they’re telling us this now while we are little kids so diabetes and stuff doesn’t happen to us later on,” said 12-year-old Keira Wicham.

Nichols said she hopes the kids will go home and talk to their parents about what they had learned.

“Sugary drinks are made and manufactured to taste good and so it’s tricky to convince them, but hopefully the Rethink Your Drink Challenge will make a difference with what they’re doing this summer,” said Nichols. “Any change that we make is a good one.”


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