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Public Health Commission encourages Bostonians to become “Sugar Smart”

7/4/2014, 6 a.m.

The Boston Public Health Commission this week will launch the next phase of ongoing efforts to raise public awareness about the negative health impacts of sugary drinks. Through social messaging and education, the Sugar Smarts/Azúcar Sabia initiative utilizes an innovative combination of traditional and digital approaches geared toward both English and Spanish speakers in Boston to promote healthier beverage choices.

Strong scientific evidence shows that consuming high amounts of added sugars, also known as sugar-sweetened beverages or SSBs, are a major contributor to increased obesity and diabetes rates, and also put many Americans at risk for cardiovascular disease. For most people, the largest single source of sugar in their diet comes from sugar sweetened beverages, including regular sodas, sport drinks, sweetened tea, coffee drinks, and energy drinks.

The recommended maximum daily consumption of added sugar is 6-9 teaspoons for adults and 3-4 teaspoons for children, yet just one 16-ounce bottle of soda can contain 15 or more teaspoons of sugar and 240 calories.

In Boston, approximately 50 percent of all residents are overweight or obese. These rates of obesity are disproportionately high in Black and Latino communities where approximately 62 percent of Latino and 69 percent of black Bostonians are either overweight or obese. Through this campaign, BPHC aims to reach all Boston residents, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by obesity.

Transit ads, billboards, and social messaging will focus their attention on parents of young children.

“Parents do so much to prevent childhood accidents and injuries. They buckle their children into car seats, vaccinate them against disease, lock up medicine cabinets, and prevent falls from windows. They are the primary advocates for the health of their children,” said Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Boston Public Health Commission. “However, the harm of sugary drinks is often overlooked.”