For Immediate Release
October 15, 2010
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
Today, Mayor Menino and the Boston Public Health Commission are enlisting Boston teens in their campaign to get young people to reduce their consumption of sugary beverages. The Commission is sponsoring the “Drink Responsibly: Be Sugar-Free” YouTube video contest for Boston residents between ages 12 and 19 to help spread the word about the health consequences of drinking soda and other sugary drinks.
“Adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have the highest consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in the United States,” said Dr. Barbara Ferrer, executive director of the Public Health Commission. “One 20-ounce bottle of regular soda can contain 17 teaspoons of sugar. That’s not a recipe for healthy living, and it’s critical that we get young people to start talking about the problem and doing something about it.”
Warriors Against Sugar, a Commission-sponsored youth group working to promote healthy lifestyles, organized the contest and announced it on YouTube. Their video and contest entry guidelines can be found at www.youtube.com/drinksugarfree.
A panel of Boston teens and public health professionals will judge the submissions and award prizes of $1,000, $500, and $250 for the first, second, and third place videos, respectively. Entries will be judged on several criteria, including originality, persuasiveness, and execution; the videos must be between 45 and 90 seconds in length. The first 10 contestants to submit videos will receive a free Sugar-Free Gift Pack that includes a tee-shirt, water bottle, and other goodies. The deadline for submissions is Nov. 15.
Consumption of soda, energy drinks, fruit punch and similar high sugar-content drinks is associated with obesity, diabetes, elevated triglycerides, cardiovascular disease, and dental caries. The average teen-ager drinks more than 17 teaspoons of "liquid sugar’’ a day, which can add up to more than 20 pounds of extra weight a year for a sedentary adolescent.
In 2009, 28 percent of Boston Public High School students reported consuming one or more sodas a day, according to the 2010 Health of Boston report. According to Boston Public Schools data, 40 percent of students are overweight or obese.
“Soda and other sugary beverages are harmful to your health,” said Jamal Pettway, a 19-year-old Dorchester resident who is a member of Warriors Against Sugar. “So I want to do what I can to encourage my friends and family to think about the impact sugary beverages have on their health, and get them to change their consumption habits.”