AUSTIN, Texas – (Sept. 6, 2012) – Can you go a day without a Dr Pepper? Several days without Sprite? A month without Mug Root Beer?
How about an entire Monday through Friday – without a single soda?
That is the challenge Dell Children’s Medical Center of Central Texas and the Austin Independent School District are putting before students and their families – in effect, Don’t Do the Dew.
The hospital and AISD are working with community organizations and families to encourage healthy living in the fight against childhood obesity by abstaining from sodas Monday through Friday until school ends next spring. Families who accept the challenge should text “nosodas” to 84444 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Supporters can also share their stories and comments at www.nosodatx.blogspot.com.
“Healthy kids perform better in school,” said Dr. Stephen Pont, medical director for Children’s/Austin ISD Student Health Services and Dell Children’s Texas Center for the Prevention and Treatment of Childhood Obesity. “Avoiding carbonated drinks and other sugary drinks will help fight obesity and improve learning. Sugary sodas have so much sugar and have no nutritional value. For folks trying to get to a healthy weight, you could even think of them as being toxic. Caffeine and other artificial ingredients are not things children should consume, and don’t belong in our children’s diets. These are troubling times and swift action is needed.”
A third of all school-age children in Austin are considered overweight or obese and, in some areas of Austin, up to two-thirds of children are at an unhealthy weight. Physicians are seeing more and more adult health conditions – such as diabetes, depression, heart disease and hypertension − occurring in our young children. A study released Monday also shows reductions in cognitive function and brain structure in teenagers with metabolic syndrome, a complication of obesity. Some of the main culprits of childhood obesity are soft drinks and other sugary drinks.
The idea for this challenge originated among two groups of parents in the southeast Austin neighborhood of Dove Springs and in East Austin, where childhood obesity is a particular concern.
“We’re making this promise for our families and urging all families here to do the same,” said Edgar Chacon, a parent and member of Manantial de Salud Dove Springs, a new grassroots health network sponsored by the Latino Healthcare Forum, which promotes better access to health care, healthier environments and lifestyles for Latinos. “Our children’s health is at stake and every small step like this will help in the fight against obesity.”
Dr. David Kauffman, principal at Perez Elementary School, added, “We heartily congratulate these parents for this idea and I strongly endorse it. We’re asking all the families here to accept this challenge and go soda-free, at least during the school week.”
The Dove Springs group’s work is supported by the “Community Transformation Grant,” a five-year grant to the Austin/Travis County Department of Health and Human Services by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With part of this money, the city is funding two projects coordinated by The University of Texas School of Public Health, Austin Regional Campus: Manantial de Salud in Dove Springs and East Side Healthy Living, which is sponsored in East Austin neighborhoods by the Alliance for African American Health in Central Texas. The alliance is also issuing the soda challenge to all families in East Austin.