International Quit Soda Day ... October 20th

Welcome to the 1st Annual International Quit Soda Day,  10/20/2017.

Freshly painted International Quit Soda Day mural by Mike Rich of Portland, Maine, 2017

Freshly painted International Quit Soda Day mural by Mike Rich of Portland, Maine, 2017

International Quit Soda Day, IQSD, is a day to focus our collective energy on decreasing worldwide consumption of soda and sugary drinks.  If we reduce consumption of sugary drinks, we will reverse the escalating rates of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay that afflict our communities.  

We can harness our collective energy to:

1) Challenge friends, family, and neighbors to give up soda and sugary drinks on this global quit date.

2) Challenge hospital administrators, school officials, and community leaders to phase out sugary drinks at their respective institutions.  You can find a downloadable sample letter reaching out to administrators in our digital toolkit.  

3) Challenge local, state, federal, and global health policy leaders to make clear and strong public announcements about the connection between sugary drinks and increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and tooth decay.   Click HERE to view/share a sample letter to the newly appointed Director of the CDC, Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald. 

4) Build relationships with public health advocates across local, regional, national, and global platforms.

Dr. Kevin Strong at the NCDFREE bootcamp at Harvard Medical School with Anne Kiser, Founding member of Global Health Disrupted, who we have partnered with to bring the DEFEAT SODATRON message to youth in Africa.  

Dr. Kevin Strong at the NCDFREE bootcamp at Harvard Medical School with Anne Kiser, Founding member of Global Health Disrupted, who we have partnered with to bring the DEFEAT SODATRON message to youth in Africa.  

 

5) Protect youth by educating them on the truth about soda and sugary drinks so they can make an informed decision to choose health over a path to chronic disease. 

Dr. Kevin Strong with Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON in collaboration with NYC Health Department.  Pictured here with Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene and Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity with students at PS 13 and Dunk the Junk rappers, Jay Caron and Mike Be.    

Dr. Kevin Strong with Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON in collaboration with NYC Health Department.  Pictured here with Dr. Aletha Maybank, Deputy Commissioner, NYC Dept of Health and Mental Hygiene and Founding Director of the Center for Health Equity with students at PS 13 and Dunk the Junk rappers, Jay Caron and Mike Be.    

 

6) Think SODA TAX.  It is working in Mexico.  Click HERE to read on the Mexico soda tax.

7) Celebrate health as an unalienable human rite.  Commit to increasing our efforts to protect low income communities and developing nations from preventable chronic diseases.  

Global Health Disrupted, in collaboration with Operation: DEFEAT SODATRON,  asks Kenyan school children... "Who is ready to QUIT SODA?"  

Global Health Disrupted, in collaboration with Operation: DEFEAT SODATRON,  asks Kenyan school children... "Who is ready to QUIT SODA?"  

 

In the spirit of this celebration, we invite you to download, share, and reproduce our posters, coloring pages, and music to promote health in your community.  Click HERE to explore the Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON digital toolkit.

 

Join us on Instagram @dunkthejunk , on twitter @dunkthejunkfood , and on hashtags #InternationalQuitSodaDay  #IQSD  #DEFEATSODATRON  to connect and AMPLIFY.

 

Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON in Miami at Solbox Fitness with street art mural by @MikeRichDesign @vyalone @Keo_xmen 

Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON in Miami at Solbox Fitness with street art mural by @MikeRichDesign @vyalone @Keo_xmen 

In our journey towards health equity, social justice, and universal health; we wish you peace, love, and strength.

 

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Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON working with children in the after school program, ASES, in Cathedral City, California.  

Operation: #DEFEATSODATRON working with children in the after school program, ASES, in Cathedral City, California.  

 

Sincerely,

Dr. Kevin Strong and the Dunk the Junk crew

 

OPEN LETTER to the newly appointed CDC Director

Dear Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald,

Congratulations on your appointment this year to be Director of the Center for Disease Control.  All Americans trust in, and benefit from, public servants who are dedicated to building systems and practices that keep us all healthy and safe.  As the recent results of Hurricane Harvey and Irma have shown, foresight, preparation, and brave action are the constant call of those who work for the best America we can be.

In that spirit we are writing to invite you to join us in celebrating the First Annual International Quit Soda Day this October 20. 

As you know, and as the CDC website notes, "frequently drinking sugar-sweetened beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, non-alcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout."  As you are also aware, Georgia has one of the highest rates of childhood obesity in the United States.  Since Atlanta is home to both the CDC, which is charged with protecting us from these diseases, and Coca-Cola, which is the largest manufacturer of one of the leading contributors to these diseases, you can understand why we feel your vocal support for this launch is crucial.

We see this issue as not only one of health, but also one of justice and equality.  Tobacco companies have a shameful history of targeting minority communities in our country and funding lung cancer "research" favorable to their poisonous product.  We have been alarmed and saddened to see Coca-Cola undertake similar strategies, such as Coke's internally circulated "Vision 2020" plan, which laid out quite blatantly the company's plan to target minority communities.  We hope you will join us in the fight to make sure soda companies are not allowed to actively poison our African American and Hispanic youth.  

[[For reference, "Vision 2020 is Coke's plan to double its business by 2020... This aggressive plan is focused on dramatically increasing consumption of sugary beverages by young people using precision marketing that targets young people, mostly in Latino and African-American communities in the United States, and in developing countries abroad..."  -Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing Officer for the Coca-Cola Company in 2014.]]

We know that you have recently faced tough questions about your past relationships with Coke and your recent tweet about risk factors for Type 2 Diabetes--an infographic that failed to include the number one risk factor, soda and sugary drinks.  But we also know that you have taken on your new role in part because you care about the health of Americans, especially America's children.  Please let us know if you can join us in support of the First Annual International Quit Soda Day on October 20.  You might participate via live video feed or by submitting a pre-recorded message in support of this important public health event.

Our nonprofit will be celebrating this launch at public schools, hospitals, and community centers throughout the United States.  We are eager to include your message in our efforts to empower youth with the truth about soda and sugary drinks so they can choose health over a path to chronic disease.  

Sincerely,

Kevin Strong, MD

Pediatrician

Advocate for Health Equity and Social Justice

Founder of the nonprofit, Dunk the Junk 

 

Cancer and School Lunch

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We know that the high sugar content of school food contributes to the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics.  But could it also be increasing a child's cancer risk?  Scientific leaders in cancer research make a strong case for YES.  

The connection looks like this….

Excessive sugar consumption = Increasing obesity rates

 Increasing obesity rates = Increasing cancer rates

so by the transitive property excessive sugar consumption = increasing cancer rates.

 There is strong new evidence linking obesity to an increased risk of 13 different cancers.              ( http://nyti.ms/2bGbAwZ )  There is also no debate on the leading cause of obesity, excessive sugar consumption.  

The next logical question is how much sugar do our kids consume through the school lunch and breakfast program?  Here are some numbers from a public elementary school near me….

FIGURE 1

Figure 2

     

 

 

 

The answer as demonstrated in Figure 1 and Figure 2 is a child in elementary school can consume about 30 teaspoons of sugar if they eat breakfast and lunch at school.  Figure 3 shows the recent American Heart Association recommendation that children consume no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day.  Therefore, by eating breakfast and lunch at school, a child can consume 5 times the recommended amount of sugar each day.

Figure 3

To magnify the enormity of the sugar exposure at school I have included an article from the New England Journal of Medicine that demonstrates the effect of JUST 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day on a child.   These effects were measured in a double blinded, randomized placebo controlled study that demonstrated statistically significant effects on weight gain, skinfold-thickness measurements, waist-to-height ratio, and fat mass.  Here is the link to this invaluable study… 

http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa1203034

Remember that the effects seen in this study were from 6 teaspoons of sugar per day, while kids consume about 30 teaspoons of sugar per day by eating breakfast and lunch at our public schools (5 times the amount in this study).  

The logic connecting school lunch to cancer risk follows quite nicely from the above elucidation.  By eating breakfast and lunch at school your child can consume 30 teaspoons of added sugar, 5 times the recommended amount of sugar by the American Heart Association and 5 times the amount of sugar that showed statistically significant effect on weight gain, skin fold-thickness measurements, waist-to-height ratio, and fat mass in the NEJM study on children. 

If you still think connecting the high sugar content of our school food to cancer seems far-fetched then perhaps these cancer experts can sway you...

Lewis Cantley, Director of the Cancer Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School, put it this way:  "Sugar scares me."

Craig Thompson, the President of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York says,  "I have eliminated refined sugar from my diet and eat as little as I possibly can, because I believe ultimately it's something I can do to decrease my risk of cancer."

 

The above quotes are borrowed from the NY Times Magazine Article from 4/13/2011, Is Sugar Toxic, written by Gary Taubes (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/17/magazine/mag-17Sugar-t.html?pagewanted=all ).  

 

The Failure of Michelle Obama's LETS MOVE Campaign

Michelle Obama is an incredible person.  Michelle Obama has been an outstanding First Lady of the United States.  The Lets Move campaign has been an outstanding movement for promoting exercise to our youth.  The Lets Move campaign has done a nice job promoting gardens and the consumption of vegetables.

However, if we judge the Lets Move campaign on its stated mission to "solve the problem of obesity within a generation" then the campaign has been a tremendous failure.  This failure is no surprise to the scientists and doctors who work in the field of childhood obesity.   The science based key to reversing the obesity epidemic lies in decreasing exposure to added sugars.  If you tell a child to exercise more BEFORE you get them off sugary drinks then they actually gain more weight.  The science is simple….A 30 minute soccer practice is NOT enough exercise to burn off the gatorade the child brings to "rehydrate" with.   Every week I see children in my office who are frustrated that their efforts to exercise have failed to solve their weight problem.  These children and families feel hopeless.  They have followed the instructions of our national leadership and continue to gain more weight.  The first thing we do is to explain the TRUTH about beating childhood obesity…. LETS NOT DRINK SUGAR.  We challenge the children to battle SODATRON, the evil SODA monster, who is ravaging our communities.  They must NOT drink the poison of the enemy for one month ( no sugary drinks for one month) and then they return to our office.   Inevitably, upon return, their weight has plateaued or even decreased. More important then the successful weight loss is that THESE CHILDREN FEEL EMPOWERED, their sense of hopelessness has disappeared.  

WE MUST ACT NOW TO CHANGE THE NATIONAL STRATEGY as obesity rates have hit an all-time high this year.  The public health consequences of our flawed national strategy are catastrophic. 

OPERATION: #DEFEATSODATRON

OPERATION: #DEFEATSODATRON

For those who want to read more on the science of reversing the obesity epidemic, we recommend this article by Dr. Aseem Malhotra.

For those who want to learn more about the science of sugar we recommend this video lecture from Dr. Robert Lustig. 

In 2012 our campaign attempted to warn Michelle Obama and the Lets Move campaign of the imminent failure of their strategy with this blogpost. 

 

 

America Needs a Sugar Tax Yesterday

Thanks to the efforts of vocal public health advocates, Jamie Oliver and Dr. Aseem Malhotra, Britain passed a sugar tax this week.  This tax on sugary drinks will raise an estimated 730 million dollars a year to be used for funding sports and breakfast programs in the schools.  

Mexico passéd a tax on sugary drinks and has seen consumption rates drop by 12% in one year.  Simultaneously, Mexico has ramped up a program to ensure kids have safe drinking water in their schools.

America urgently needs a sugar tax of our own.   The obesity rate in the US hit an all time high this year of 30%.  Also, this year, it was announced that 90 million Americans have pre diabetes. The science is clear.  Drinking one sugary drink per day increases your risk of obesity by 60%.

 Drinking 1 to 2 sugary drinks per day increases your risk of type 2 diabetes by 25%.

 Current projections suggest that half of all Latino and Black children in the US will end up with type 2 diabetes in their lifetime.  Data from Mexico clearly show a tax will decrease consumption.  WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?   

The sugar tax revenue could be used to:

1)  Ensure all families and schools have safe drinking water for their children.  

2) Eliminate junk food from our school food program (Fruit Loops, Chocolate milk, Chicken Nuggets, Cocoa Puffs) and replace it with real food so our most vulnerable children have the nutrients they need to thrive.

3) Promote a more sustainable food system by teaching families and communities to grow their own food.   (see The Ron Finley Project)

4)  Subsidize the purchase of real food through the SNAP program and phase out the purchase of sugary junk food.  

From a public health standpoint a sugar tax is a NO BRAINER.  

For the anti tax people out there….please think about the looming cost of 90 million pre diabetics. We are looking at catastrophic healthcare costs from the exorbitant complications that diabetics suffer from including heart attacks, strokes, kidney failure, blindness, infections, impotence, and amputation.

In conclusion, WE OWE IT TO OUR CHILDREN to provide clean drinking water, real food, and a childhood that guides youth away from the path to chronic disease.