There’s no doubt about it: sugary drinks are the worst enemy of fitness. Not even a high-fat diet can approach the damage sugar-rich foods can do to your body. Excessive sugar intake can cause health problems ranging from diabetes to obesity to higher risk of cancer.
Around the country, there have been many steps taken to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks. Thanks to the efforts of the Horizon Foundation and local businesses, Maryland’s Howard County is a little bit healthier.
The Horizon Foundation joined forces with community partners to create a multi-year campaign to reduce the consumption of high-sugar beverages: flavored waters and teas, fruit drinks, sports drinks, sugar-rich sodas, and energy drinks. The campaign involved outreach and education (through direct consumer education, social marketing, and training from healthcare professionals) to improve the quality of food and drinks sold in vending machines, improving the wellness policies of local schools, enacting a state law to prevent licensed childcare centers serving sugar-rich beverages, and enacting a local law that made healthy food and drink easily accessible, especially on government property.
The results of the campaign are impressive. A team of researchers from the University of Connecticut1 compared the sales of 15 Howard County supermarkets with the sales of 17 supermarkets in the southwest of Pennsylvania. They found that sales of 100% fruit juice and added-sugar fruit-flavored beverages decreased by 15% from 2012 to 2015, and the sale of sugar-sweetened soda decreased by up to 20%.
If this study proves anything, it’s that a concerted effort by government, health-centered organizations, and local businesses can make a change in the health of the average American. Such a drastic decline in sugary drinks only came about thanks to the marketing, education, and legislations passed in Howard County and Maryland as a whole.
Imagine what could happen if the rest of the country took similar steps to improve our diet? Even something as small as decreasing sugar intake could yield impressive results in the overall health of the United States. It’s not an easy fight, but as Howard Country proved, it can be done.
1. American Heart Association. “Sugary drink sales drop nearly 20 percent after multi-faceted campaign.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 November 2016.