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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First 5 Volunteers Help Make Concord Streets Safer

Concordgroup2There are two new sets of stop signs and crosswalks at Laguna and Detroit and Sunnyside and Detroit in Concord, thanks to a community-driven effort in which a dozen members of our Central County Regional Group played a critical role.

Last August, Regional Group members joined staff from Contra Costa Health Services, Michael Chavez Center/Monument Community Partnership, the City of Concord, County Connection and the National Environment Protection Agency to conduct a “walk audit” of Detroit Avenue.

Many families with young children in this neighborhood walk along Detroit Avenue to take their kids to school, go to work, and run daily errands.  The group’s audit revealed that speeding drivers, unmarked crosswalks, sidewalks in poor condition, and dangerous placement of bus stops make it unsafe for families who walk or bike, especially the Laguna/Detroit and Sunnyside/Detroit intersections because of their proximity to Meadow Homes Elementary and the Concord Child Care Center. Continue reading

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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Building Leaders, Fighting Childhood Obesity

Swim classes in Concord.

About five years ago, members of our parent-led volunteer groups – the Central, East, and West County Regional Groups – conducted a community needs assessment related to childhood obesity.

They learned that while parents wanted their young children to be more physically active, many could not afford the steep fees that come with organized sports or city-run recreation programs. So they decided to do something about it.

The parents approached park and recreation departments in six cities to partner on a new project. First 5 would pay for sports classes, the Regional Group members would conduct outreach to recruit participants, and each city would secure venues and assist with registration. Not long after, low-cost sports classes for young children began in Oakley, Antioch, Bay Point, Concord, San Pablo, and Richmond. Continue reading

Soda Taxes Fail…But the Facts Remain

Richmond has had the national spotlight for the last few weeks, and for good reason. The City, later joined by El Monte in Southern California, was the first in the nation to place on the ballot a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. While both measures failed, they did mark an important milestone in the fight against childhood obesity: singling out sugar-sweetened beverages as particularly harmful for children.

Today, children consume nearly twice as many calories from sugary drinks – juice, soda, sports drinks, flavored milk – than they did 30 years ago. What’s also doubled in the last 30 years? The number of overweight preschoolers in the U.S.

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What’s the Best Park in Pittsburg?

Which are the best parks and playgrounds in Pittsburg?

First 5 Contra Costa’s parent led East County Regional Group, along with folks from the Healthy and Active Before 5 collaborative, set out to answer this question by visiting every park in the city. Armed with a check list and rating system, and their children to “test drive” the park, the group came up with their top three play spaces: Mariner, Stoneman, and Highlands Ranch.

Rating criteria included the type of amenities available (e.g., restrooms, seating, shade, water fountain), the condition of the play equipment and park grounds, safety concerns, creativity of play environment, and accommodations for children with special needs. Parents also rated how well their children liked the park and playground. Continue reading

New Obesity Data: Low-Income Communities Have Highest Rates

Over half of all 5th, 7th, and 9th graders in San Pablo are overweight or obese. In Danville, the rate drops to 16.5%.

City-level childhood overweight and obesity rates were recently released by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research and the California Center for Public Health Advocacy.  These rates reveal marked disparities depending on where children live.

On average, 38% of California kids are overweight or obese. The five cities in Contra Costa with rates higher than the state average are also the same five cities with the lowest household incomes in the county (see chart below):

Conversely, the two cities with the lowest childhood obesity rates, Lafayette (17.8%) and Danville (16.5%), are the two cities with the highest incomes in the county, $133,268 and $129,720 respectively.  Coincidence? Unlikely, since it is well documented that chronic health problems are significantly more prevalent among low-income earners. Continue reading

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