At Professor Wellbody's Academy of Health & Wellness, we understand there's only one thing harder than making healthy behavior changes: Sticking to them! We all need a little help from our friends, and that's the purpose of the Wellbody Blog, a friendly online gathering spot--a community well--where you can dip into health news; wellness tips; recipes; latest research about nutrition, exercise, sleep and hygiene; plus, real stories from virtual neighbors who are also trying to change their lives for the better. Start from wherever you are; share ideas, information, inspiration. At Pacific Science Center, we believe each of us can do something everyday to improve our health and well-being.
Wellbody Recipe: Making Water Interesting
What to do?
New York City, now in a court brawl to ban the sale of large-size sodas, plasters subways with in-your-face billboards: “Your kids could be drinking themselves SICK. SUGARY DRINKS can bring on obesity, which can lead to DIABETES and risk factors for HEART DISEASE.” California has proposed taxing sugary drinks and slapping warning labels on them.
Here in the Seattle area, our watery region is taking a glass half-full approach that boils down to...Making Water Interesting. And it just might work!
Keep reading for refreshing recipes to jazz up nature’s healthiest thirst quencher (think strawberries, mint leaves, cucumber slices, watermelon slush) – plus alarming statistics about teen soda consumption in the Seattle area.
In King County, 31 percent of high school students drink soda daily—and an increasing number of young people are swigging sweetened sports drinks, fruit drinks, energy drinks and vitamin waters, according to the Washington State Healthy Youth Survey. [Read the full report.] A regular 12-ounce cola has more than nine teaspoons of added sugar – nearly double the limit recommended for the whole day.
“Unlike solid foods, sugary drinks don’t indicate to you that you’re full, but you’re still taking in those calories,” says Blishda Lacet, Community Programs Manager, Public Health-Seattle & King County. "Then, since you’re still hungry, you consume even more calories in solid food.”
That can add up to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, joint pain, social stigma. Lacet helps community-based organizations identify strategies to promote healthy beverage choices in communities that drink a lot of sugary beverages. In King County, soda consumption is highest among Native American/American Indian/Alaskan Native youth, Hispanic/Latino youth, Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander youth and African American youth.
Why target sugary drinks and not all junk food? “Sodas can easily be taken out of the diet. They don’t give you nutrition,” Lacet says.
And why now?
An alarming rise in obesity and consumption of sugary drinks.
Sure, Coca-Cola and Pepsi have been around for decades. But back in the 1930s and 1950s, portion sizes were much smaller, Lacet says. Soda was seen as a special treat. And it was eight ounces. Today, sugary drinks are ubiquitous and portions are 12 ounces, 16 ounces, 20 ounces. Soda is marketed by celebrities and athletes as something to swig frequently to add a smile to your day.
So if we're not drinking soda, what are we supposed to drink?
“We’re trying to increase the amount of water people drink,” Lacet says. “There’s a perception that tap water is not good and it doesn’t taste good. A feeling that pipes are really old and tap water has a taste or smell I’m not comfortable with.
"We’re trying to make water interesting, tasty, fun. Our communities are going into the schools with bottle water filling stations. Whatever we need to do.”
Ever try naturally sweetening the water in your bottle with sliced cucumbers? Or adding crushed mint leaves?
Check out these refreshing recipes [WateristheBest.pdf] for citrus water, watermelon delight, grape sparklers, fresh fruit coolers and spa water. Infusing water with a few fresh or frozen raspberries will turn it a beautiful shade of pink. And frozen grapes add a fresh sparkle that beats ersatz-flavored carbonation.
Public Health-Seattle & King County is also working with other community groups to give water pizzazz:
Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition
Developed a healthy snacks and beverages list; working with sponsors to install water filling stations in schools and public buildings frequented by youth.
Global to Local
Community workshops about the harmful effects of sugary drinks; outreach to 11 local grocery stores in the Tukwila area asking them to place water and 100% juice near their checkout and at eye level in their refrigerators with signage saying the store supports healthy beverage consumption. Three stores agreed.
King County Hospitals for a Healthier Community
Eleven hospitals signed a pledge to increase access to healthy beverages –with a goal of 80 percent healthy beverages in their cafeterias and vending machines within four years.
Sea Mar Community Health Centers
Community workshops, training and written materials in Spanish and English about the harmful effects of sugary drinks; educational outreach to a soccer league with Latino youth--including a taste testing of fruit-infused waters. Parents encouraged to bring water rather than sweetened sports drinks to the games.
Seattle Indian Health Board
Created an anti-sugary drinks youth council and poetry slam. The Youth Council developed a logo and campaign called “Drop the Pop. Water is Sacred.” Yes, there's a cool spoken-word/poetry video. Stay tuned!