A Rationale for the Development of the Program, Be Sweet without the Sugar. A Call to Action for Added Sugar Consumption in Students
Obesity is a global issue, with worldwide obesity rates nearly tripled since 1975 (Obesity and overweight n.d, 2020). According to the World Health Organization over 340 million children and adolescents between the ages of 5-19 were overweight or obese and 39% of adults aged 18 years and over were overweight in 2016, and 13% were obese in 2016 (Obesity and overweight n.d, 2020). In the United States, obesity rates continue to trend upwards, creating a lasting negative impact on health. Obesity related conditions include heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, thus leading to a preventable, premature death. By intervening and encouraging healthy behaviors at a younger age, individuals will maintain a healthy weight which ultimately will decrease their risk of developing chronic diseases, specifically type 2 diabetes. A study conducted in 2006 found that SSBs, particularly carbonated soft drinks, may be a key contributor to the epidemic of overweight and obesity, by virtue of these beverages’ high added sugar content, low satiety, and incomplete compensation for total energy (Malik, Schulze & Hu, 2006).
Children between the ages of 13-19 are more susceptible to peer pressure, making decisions independently and spending more time away from the home. Students are faced with many SSB options throughout the day. Students may also engage in after school activities where sport drinks are encouraged to rehydrate and refuel. According to a study in 2012, approximately 16% of children and adolescents’ total caloric intakes came from added sugars (Ervin et al, 2012). The study concluded that this increase in added sugars contributes to the age, as eating location impacts daily energy intake in children and adolescents. Results showed that more of the added sugars calories were consumed at home rather than away from home (Ervin et al, 2012).
To be more specific, in New Jersey, approximately 1 out of every 4 adults are obese with 23% of NJ high school students being classified as overweight or obese (Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity, 2018). In 2008, $2.2 billion was spent on obesity health care costs. In 2018, that cost nearly quadrupled to $9.3 billion spent annually on obesity related health care costs (Physical Activity, Nutrition, and Obesity, 2018). Interventions must be in place for the health of adolescents to minimize their risk of obesity.
The Program, Be Sweet without the Sugar, will target students in New Jersey, through engaging positive behavior through social media. This program will encourage students to participate in the social media contests and understand the benefits of water on the body. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and TikTok will show students that drinking water can be fun and promote positive behavior change. Certain challenges will be displayed through the social media sites, such as a hydration challenge, to encourage students to participate with the incentive of winning a raffle at the end of each week. Students must engage on the social media sites to show involvement in the program for a chance to be entered.
Beverages contribute approximately 20% of calories to the diets of children and adolescents and can contain important nutrients (Trends in Beverage Consumption, 2017). An intervention program is necessary to combat the obesity epidemic and decrease the risk of obesity related diagnosis later in life. Gaining support of stakeholders is a critical component in the planning process. A vending machine will hold roughly 400 beverages. Assuming the school already has the vending machine at the facility, the price would be to refill the vending machine with water and unsweetened beverages. According to a big retail grocery store, purchasing soda cost is $0.38 per can, water bottles at $0.09, and unsweetened iced tea at $0.22 per bottle (Healthy-Food-Choices-In-Schools, 2020). Based on these numbers, the facility will earn approximately $90 (per 400) by swapping soda for a mix of water and unsweetened tea. Furthermore, eliminating sugary drinks can lower medical costs going forward. Health care treating obesity in the United States was $147 billion in 2008 US dollars; which translates into $1,429 higher cost than those of normal weight (Obesity and overweight, 2020). By promoting a diet rich in nutrient dense foods and decreasing the consumption of added sugar, students will hopefully decrease their changes of obesity, thus saving themself the additional annual $1,429 spent annually on medical bills later in life.
This program will be successful because it is utilizing promotional efforts that aligns with the target audience. Nutrition education must be provided for students to understand how food directly impacts their own health. Currently, not all states require nutrition education to be taught at schools. This program will begin with an assembly of sorts to gather all students and provide a brief overview on health, nutrition and added sugars. Students will be taught how to read a nutrition facts label and where added sugars are placed. Next, this program will engage students through social media. This platform will entice students and their peers to be active in this program, while simultaneously learning and making healthier lifestyle changes. Students will remain at a healthy Body Mass Index and ultimately reduce their risk of chronic diseases that are associated with obesity. This program will need the influence of a social media icon that students respect and would want to follow. Through this program, students will be more aware of the foods and drinks they consume,, be able to read a nutrition facts label, determine the amount of added sugar per serving and increase self-efficacy to make their own decisions.
Booker, C. (2020, February 13). All Info – S.3293 – 116th Congress (2019-2020): Food and Nutrition Education in Schools Act of 2020. Retrieved September 18, 2020, from https://www.congress.gov/bill/116th-congress/senate-bill/3293/all-info
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Malik, V. S., Schulze, M. B., & Hu, F. B. (2006). Intake of sugar-sweetened beverages and weight gain: a systematic review. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 84( 2), 274–288. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/84.1.274
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Trends in Beverage Consumption Among High School Students – United States, 2007–2015. (2017, August 01). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6604a5.htm?s_cid=mm6604a5_x5