Our Sugar Bites campaign is back. And this time we’re taking a bite out of sugary juice drinks:

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Why sugary juice drinks?

Most parents already know that soda isn’t good for young children, but deceptive marketing tactics trick them into believing juice drinks are a healthy alternative. They’re not. Most popular children’s juice drinks contain little fruit, unnecessary calories, and loads of sugar. Eight ounces of soda and eight ounces of apple juice both have 27 or more grams of sugar (that’s over 6 teaspoons!).

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests that children between age one and six consume no more than four to six ounces of 100% fruit juice daily, if at all. The reality is preschoolers drink twice that every day, and even more if they live in low-income households.

“There is no benefit to consuming juice over whole fruit. Drinking a large amount of sugar without the fiber in fruit that makes you full is not good for anyone, especially young children,” said retired cardiologist and former Richmond City Council member Dr. Jeff Ritterman. “Even diluted juice drinks can give kids cavities and increase diabetes in the future. My advice to parents is to serve children water or milk.”

developdiabetesAccording to researchers, sugary drinks are the largest source of added sugar in the diets of children and contribute to tooth decay and childhood obesity. Already half of California children experience tooth decay before kindergarten.

While new data shows a promising decline in childhood obesity rates among preschoolers, significant disparities remain.  African American and Latino preschoolers are three to five times more likely to be overweight or obese compared to white children.

Health advocates say one in three U.S. children born after the year 2000 – and nearly half of Latino and African American children – will develop type II diabetes in their lifetimes unless trends change.

Establishing healthy habits at an early age is critical.

New evidence shows that children who are overweight or obese by kindergarten are five times more likely to remain obese as an adult. Sweet beverages like juice drinks can lead to bad eating habits by training kids to prefer and demand something sweet.

One remedy is simple: serve water instead of sugary drinks.

About the campaign:

The new Sugar Bites brochure

The new Sugar Bites brochure

Look for English and Spanish ads on BART platforms, transit shelters, billboards, and convenience store windows in Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, and Richmond.

New bilingual Sugar Bites juice brochures, posters, and magnets will be distributed in health centers, nonprofit organizations, and child care programs. To order these materials, please contact Tracy Irwin: tirwin@first5coco.org.

Sugar Bites is a project of First 5 Contra Costa, Healthy and Active Before 5, and Kaiser Permanente.

For more information, visit www.cutsugarydrinks.org.

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