JULY 23, 2019 — Diseases that can last a lifetime often develop when we’re adults. That includes type 2 diabetes, heart disease and many types of cancer.
But the beverages we drink and the physical activity we do — or don’t do — as children can help prevent these chronic diseases years down the road.
That’s why Alaska’s Play Every Day campaign is launching new videos, online and print messages focused on encouraging families to serve their children healthy drinks starting at a very young age. That includes water and white milk, which have no added sugars, colors or flavors. New materials also support daily physical activity for children ages 5 and younger.
“It’s so important to start early, to serve children water instead of sugary drinks and prioritize daily physical activity for the whole family,” said Karol Fink, registered dietitian and manager of Alaska’s Physical Activity and Nutrition program. “Taking those steps when your children are toddlers and preschoolers is a great investment toward better health for years to come.”
The Physical Activity and Nutrition program within the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services runs the Play Every Day campaign. This year, the program continued its partnership with the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium to create and share these new materials.
New recommendations for preschool-age children
Play Every Day’s new messages call attention to recently updated national recommendations for daily activity and limiting adding sugar. The new Physical Activity Guidelines call for a mix of light, moderate and vigorous activities off and on during several hours each day for preschool-age children.
The updated U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend limiting the amount of sugar your kids eat and drink to less than 10 percent of their daily calories. For preschool-age children, that means limiting added sugar to fewer than 8 teaspoons a day. Small drinks like fruit drinks can be packed with that much sugar, even more. For the best health, serve your children healthy drinks instead:
- Birth to 1 year: Choose breast milk or iron-fortified formula only.
- 1–2 years old: Serve water and whole white milk.
- 2–6 years old: Serve water and fat-free (skim or nonfat) or low-fat (1%) white milk.
New Play Every Day videos, posters and other educational materials
Play Every Day’s staff created its new materials after talking with Alaska parents and learning they wanted to know more about which drinks were hiding large amounts of sugar — and just how much of it. Alaska parents often start serving their children sugary drinks at a young age. On any given day, more than 1 out of 4 Alaska parents report serving their 3-year-old children soda, fruit drinks, sweetened powdered drinks, sports or energy drinks, according to the most recent state survey of Alaska parents of preschoolers.
The labels on these sugary drinks can often make them look healthier than they really are. New Play Every Day videos and materials help parents make sense of drink labels that highlight added vitamins and natural flavors, while not making it clear that the drinks have a large amount of added sugar. Drinks can be loaded with added sugar, even when they:
- have a fruit in their name — like cranberry or raspberry.
- say they are organic.
- have "100% vitamin C" written on the label.
A drink can have a fruit in its name and NOT be made with any fruit juice. Some fruit drinks can have a small amount of fruit juice, but then have a large amount of added sugar. Organic drinks often have the same amount of sugar as non-organic drinks. Both organic and non-organic drinks with added sugar can lead to health problems in little children.
The following new materials share information about how much sugar is hiding in drinks and the health harms that can result over time when children start consuming sugary drinks and foods at an early age:
Share the message
Follow and like Play Every Day’s Facebook page, and share the campaign’s messages with others. Play new animated short videos about water, milk and sugary drinks in child care centers, preschools, pediatric offices and more.
Do you want free printed copies of posters or educational handouts? Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also download free electronic copies from these webpages that list print and video materials: