Contra Costa Kids Drinking Less Sugary Drinks

Together with Healthy and Active Before 5, we launched our hard-hitting and award-winning Sugar Bites campaign in 2013 urging parents to protect their toddlers and preschoolers from sugary drinks and serve them water instead. New data show local parents are heeding the message.

Analysis of children’s sugary beverage consumption among families new to First 5 services shows a steady decline over the last four years. The data come from First 5 Contra Costa’s annual family survey, a detailed list of questions hundreds of families complete when they start participating in services we fund.

The survey asks parents if their child had a sugary drink yesterday. Back in 2012/13, 80% of respondents answered yes. Last year, the response had dropped to 63%.

Juice Drinks

Sugar Bites is a unique campaign for many reasons, one being its focus on sugary juice drinks. Three of the four print ads we’ve run feature drinks like Sunny D or Capri Sun to challenge deceptive marketing tactics used to trick parents into thinking juice drinks are healthy beverages for young children. We also ran a TV commercial with this message.

Juice contains as much sugar as soda, sometimes more. Sugar Bites has provided a much-needed counter message for parents barraged by misleading claims from the beverage industry.

Since 2012/13, children’s consumption of juice in Contra Costa County is down 26%.

Decline mirrors state health data

Data from the California Health Interview Survey (CHIS), the nation’s largest state health survey, show a decrease in juice consumption among young children in Contra Costa County as well.

Families with children age two to six were asked if they served their children juice yesterday. In 2011, 22% of respondents said their child did not drink juice the day before. By 2015, this percentage had tripled, with 66% of children not drinking juice.

We continue to run the Sugar Bites campaign each year. For the last two, we’ve had a smaller campaign targeting Concord and San Pablo via bus ads, grocery carts, convenience stores, and window clings on sugary drinks cases in small shops. The last campaign had about 24 million media impressions (the number of times people saw the ads). First 5 Sacramento also runs the ads in the Sacramento region.

Learn more about Sugar Bites at

Sugar Bites is Back with New Ads

We’re running our Sugar Bites ads this summer to remind parents that serving water instead of sugary drinks is the healthiest option for quenching their children’s thirst.

The ads, which focus on soda and sugary juice drinks, are running in Concord and San Pablo at bus shelters, convenience and grocery stores, gas stations, and on County Connection buses.

And for the first time, we were able to place printed window clings directly on refrigerated beverage cases in about 40 convenience stores and gas stations.

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New Sugar Bites TV Ads Target Children’s Juice Drinks

Our popular Sugar Bites campaign is back with provocative new television commercials challenging the deceptive marketing tactics used to trick parents into thinking sugary juice drinks are healthy beverages for young children.

The commercials, available in English and Spanish, feature a young child pleading with her mother to purchase a juice drink in the grocery store. The mother is horrified when the container morphs into a toothy monster and she learns that consumption of sugary beverages can lead to tooth decay, obesity, and type II diabetes. We created the ads with our campaign partner, the Healthy and Active Before 5 collaborative.

Watch the ads:

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Sugar Bites Highlights


Support for Sugar Bites from CSPI!

The first phase of our Sugar Bites campaign is winding down and so far we’ve made quite an impresssion.

The purpose of Sugar Bites, which we launched in May with Healthy and Active Before 5, is to inform parents about the dangerous health effects of sugary drink consumption and encourage them to serve their toddlers and preschoolers water instead.

Our bilingual campaign consisted of ads displayed on local bus shelters, BART stations, check-cashing facilities, and 50 convenience stores located in Bay Point, Concord, Pittsburg, Richmond, and San Pablo, the new website, and distribution of 40,000 brochures throughout the county.

Phase I of our campaign may almost be over, but that doesn’t mean we’re done.  A study released last week reinforces why our Sugar Bites message is so important.  The study revealed that daily consumption of sugary drinks, such as soda, juice drinks, and sport drinks, leads to obesity in preschool-age children.

The following day, the CDC released encouraging data showing a slight decline in obesity rates among low-income preschoolers – the first decline in decades.  California’s rate decreased from 17.3% to 16.8%.  While the CDC couldn’t say for sure why rates are declining, some possibilities include higher breastfeeding rates and new WIC policies which no longer allow the inclusion of juice in infant food packages.

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Cut Sugary Drinks

sugarydrinksOn Monday, a USA Today-commissioned study revealed that Americans, including children, are consuming less sugar. This study got a lot of attention and overshadowed another study released by UC San Francisco on the same day.

That study confirmed that California children are consuming less soda, but found that African American and Latino children are much more likely to replace soda with fruity juices than their white peers. This is troubling since many sugary juices have as much sugar, if not more, than soda.

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Protect Children from Sugary Drinks

In an effort to prevent childhood obesity, First 5 Contra Costa and the Healthy and Active Before 5 collaborative have launched a hard-hitting campaign urging parents to protect their toddlers and preschoolers from sugary drinks, and serve them water instead.

As you can see from the artwork, we’re not pulling any punches with this campaign:

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New Resource for Serving Healthy Beverages in Child Care


A new Web site launched yesterday to help California’s child care providers implement AB 2084 (Brownley), legislation which prohibits most sugar-sweetened beverages from being served in licensed child care programs.  AB 2084 went into effect in January. It requires licensed child care providers to:

  • Make clean and safe drinking water available at all times
  • Offer only unsweetened one percent or non-fat milk to children age two and older
  • Limit juice to only one serving a day of 100 percent juice
  • Prohibit beverages with added sweeteners or artificial flavors

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Reduce Added Sugar in Your Child’s Diet

Kids are consuming too much added sugar according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control. On average, 16% of daily calories consumed by American children come from sugar. The USDA 2010 Dietary Guidelines recommend that discretionary calories – solid fats and added sugars – should not exceed 5 to 15% of total caloric intake.

Added sugar, a caloric sweetener that doesn’t exist naturally in foods, comes with many different names: white sugar, brown sugar, high fructose corn syrup, honey, dextrose, glucose, and molasses. Most ‘processed’ food (including many boxed, frozen, and pre-prepared foods), have added sugar. Some unexpected foods high in sugar are chicken nuggets, dried fruit snacks, granola bars, and ketchup. Continue reading

Ring in the New Year with Healthier Snacks

The Delta First 5 Center, located in Brentwood, implemented a new nutrition policy last year.  Perhaps your organization may want to consider ringing in the New Year by adopting a new healthful snack policy.

Here’s Delta’s nutrition policy, which has been embraced both by the Center’s staff and families. The Delta First 5 Center:

  • Will not serve sugar-sweetened beverages, including 100% fruit juice, to children at any of the Center’s activities, events or celebrations.
  • Will provide low-calorie whole grain cereal snacks on a daily basis and fresh fruits and vegetables when possible.
  • Will serve whole fruit slices in place of 100% juice or flavored punch when possible.
  • Will always provide water free of charge for children and their families.
  • May provide additional beverages for children including healthy alternatives such as carbonated water (flavored or unflavored) without sweeteners and non-fat or 1% milk (plain, not flavored).

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