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3601 C Street, Suite 722
Anchorage AK 99503
Fax: 907.269.5446

Obesity Prevention - Sugary Drinks

Cutting Sugary Drink Consumption

Alaska projects that promote water, low-fat milk instead of sugary drinks

Many Alaskans are drinking too many sugary drinks, and they’re consuming them every single day. Sugar is hidden in many types of drinks, like soda, sports and energy drinks, powdered mixes, fruit-flavored drinks, vitamin-enhanced water, and sweetened coffee and tea. Sugary drinks can lead to serious health problems for Alaskans, even during childhood:

  • obesity
  • type 2 diabetes
  • heart disease
  • tooth decay

The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amount of added sugar you eat and drink to less than 10 percent of total calories consumed during the day. For an adult consuming an average 2,000 calories during a day, that means limiting added sugar to less than 12 ½ teaspoons of sugar during the day. Children, who often eat fewer calories than adults, should consume less added sugar.

Just one sugary drink – such as one bottle of soda with 16 teaspoons of added sugar – has more added sugar than anyone should have in one day.

Despite the recommended daily sugar limits, many Alaskans are drinking sodas and sugary beverages every single day.

  • About 23% of Alaska adults and 42% of Alaska high school students drink one of more sodas or sugary drinks every day (2015 BRFSS, 2015 YRBS)
  • One out of 5 Alaska parents of elementary-age children serves their children a sugary drink every day, and two out of three parents serve their kids sugary drinks one or more times each week. (2014 Play Every Day Statewide Telephone Survey)

Play Every Day

Since 2012, the Department of Health and Social Services has run a statewide public education campaign to improve health behaviors and reduce childhood obesity and related chronic diseases, like type 2 diabetes and heart disease. Play Every Day focuses on two key health behaviors:

The campaign uses many strategies to reduce sugary drink consumption. It has created short school lesson plans that Alaska health teachers can use in the classroom. It has created multiple TV public service announcements that have aired statewide. It has printed educational posters and cards and mailed them to hundreds of Alaska schools, public health centers and clinics across the state.

Play Every Day Contact:

Ann Potempa, MPH
Play Every Day Coordinator
(907) 269-3433

Healthy Drinks for Healthy Kids

Public health and dental professionals teamed up to cut sugary drink consumption

Learning from the successes of a similar program with health care providers in tobacco prevention, this project provided training to dental clinics and providers to ask their patients about sugary drinks, advise patients to reduce consumption, and assist patients to come up with a plan to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and replace them with water. Dental clinics that integrate the interventions into routine patient visits will consistently screen patients for sugary drink consumption, document that consumption and intervene with patients who drink sugary beverages. This will increase the likelihood that patients will reduce sugary drink intake and drink water for better health.

The project trained dental health professionals how to use their newly developed guide, When Sugar Is Not So Sweet – A Brief Guide to Explain How Sugary Drinks Can Harm Your Health.

Healthy Drinks Project Contacts:

Karol Fink, MS RD
Program Manager
(907) 269-3457

Ann Potempa, MPH
Play Every Day Coordinator
(907) 269-3433

School Wellness Policies

The state’s Obesity Prevention program supports school districts that are working toward approving wellness policies that reduce or eliminate sugary drinks sold to children at school. A model wellness policy developed in partnership with Alaska Child Nutrition Programs and the Association of Alaska School Boards (AASB) is available to support the adoption of Smart Snacks in School nutrition standards. These standards help reduce sugary drink consumption by ensuring the beverages marketed and sold to students during the school day meet or exceed the minimum nutrition requirements. This booklet provides an overview of the standards and how to tell if a food or drink meets the requirements.

School Wellness Policy Contact:

Wendy Hamilton
School Health Program
(907) 465-2768