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

Parents Help Antioch Get New Playground

ECRG members advocating for better parks in Antioch

An Antioch neighborhood is celebrating a brand new playground, thanks to a group of parents who worked with the city to renovate one of Antioch’s most dilapidated parks. To celebrate, the parents and representatives from the City of Antioch are holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 10 to unveil the new and improved Prosserville Park, now one of the largest parks in the city. The event will run from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and have races, arts and crafts, face painting, and plenty of time for kids to play on the new structures.

The campaign for the new playground began when the East County Regional Group, a parent advocacy group First 5 Contra Costa sponsors, rated every park in Antioch. Their findings revealed that parks located in the city’s lower-income communities had higher crime, graffiti, and unsafe conditions compared to the city’s newer neighborhoods.

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New Program Gets Pittsburg Neighbors Moving

ECRG_800x532Improving the playground at De Anza Park in Pittsburg was just the beginning for the East County Regional Group.

Newly funded with a $20,000 from the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Community Benefit Program, this dedicated group of parent advocates we sponsor are launching Pittsburg PACE (Parks, Activities, & Community Engagement) with a series of activities designed to increase physical activity among young children and families in Pittsburg’s Trident/De Anza Park neighborhood. Continue reading

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: Round 2

The second cycle of our Sugar Bites campaign was another success. This time we focused primarily on sugary juice drinks, which many parents didn’t know contain as much or more sugar than soda.

The second campaign included many of the strategies used in round one, such as BART, convenience stores, and bus shelter ads as well as posters and brochures distributed through WIC, Head Start and our funded programs. We also tried a few new things in round two:


We placed ads on billboards on major highways in Pittsburg and in neighborhoods throughout Richmond.



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Exercise Tips for Little Kids

ThisismyworkoutForming healthy habits start during a child’s early years and last a lifetime. A study conducted by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development found young children who are overweight during their early years are more likely to be obese later in life. Raising healthy children is about eating nutritious foods and watching portion size, and also about encouraging physical activity.

Exercise is fun, especially when the whole family is involved. Try these tips:

Children Up to 1 Year Old

It is important for babies to play and be active. Physical activity helps babies develop their muscles and encourages them to explore the world around them.

  • Place your baby on his or her stomach for “tummy time” to help build neck and core muscles and prepare for crawling
  • Practice crawling with your baby outside on a blanket
  • Stretch your arms and wiggle your toes together

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San Pablo Mom Takes on Childhood Obesity


Lucy Alfaro-Canjura joined the West County Regional Group (WCRG) four years ago.

Lucy Alfaro-Canjura, a member of the West County Regional Group for the last four years, was recently appointed Co-Chair of the City of San Pablo’s Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force.

Lucy credits her participation on the Regional Group with building her leadership skills and preparing her for such an important community role. About 150 parents volunteer on three Regional Groups sponsored by First 5 Contra Costa in order to make Contra Costa healthier, safer and more family-friendly. The program teaches community residents leadership and advocacy skills and how to contribute their voices to the political process.

“Participating as a member of the WCRG has empowered me to increase awareness about important health concerns, such as childhood obesity in my community,” Lucy said. “By being a leader in the WCRG, I’ve learned necessary tools to become a leader in my community. My participation assisted me with networking opportunities in San Pablo and Contra Costa County. I’m now a familiar face to many families in the community.” Continue reading

Juice is a Sugary Drink

fruitMost parents know that soda isn’t good for young children, but deceptive marketing tactics trick them into believing that juice drinks are a healthy alternative. They’re not. Most popular children’s juice drinks contain little fruit, extra calories, and loads of sugar. For example, eight ounces of soda and eight ounces of apple juice both have over 6 teaspoons of sugar.

Juice Drink Vs. 100% Juice

When developing our new Sugar Bites campaign, we had a lot of discussion about juice. To start with, what’s the difference between juice drinks and 100% juice?

Juice drinks are beverages that do not contain 100% fruit juice and are loaded with added sugar and unnecessary calories. They have little to no nutritional value. On the label, look for drinks called juice drinks, fruit drinks, cocktail, beverage, or punch. Continue reading

Sugar Bites is Back!

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



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!). Continue reading

Sugar Bites Results

SugarBites9x12-01According to a new survey, parents are more likely to serve their children water or milk instead of sugary drinks after seeing our Sugar Bites campaign.

In October, we conducted on-the-street interviews with 99 parents with children birth to age five to assess the reach and impact of our Sugar Bite campaign. The interviews were conducted in English and Spanish and took place in Concord, San Pablo, and Richmond.

Most of the parents surveyed had seen the ads at least three to four times in places including transit shelters, BART, or convenience stores. When asked about the campaign’s ads, which were designed to elicit visceral reactions from parents to protect their kids from these harmful products, participants responded as follows:

  • 95% felt the campaign was memorable
  • 90% felt the campaign was convincing
  • 84% reported being affected/highly affected by the campaign
  • 83% said they agreed/strongly agreed with the message in the ads

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