Don’t Drink Yourself Fat: Maui’s New Campaign

May 31, 2011, 1:00 PM HST · Updated May 31, 2:34 PM
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By Wendy Osher

Photo by Wendy Osher.

Federal funds will support a new public awareness campaign on Maui and Kauai that discourages the consumption of sugar sweetened drinks.

The campaign warns consumers “Don’t Drink Yourself Fat,” and is intended to highlight health impacts of sugary drink consumption. State health officials say the campaign is part of a comprehensive approach to reduce obesity and chronic disease in Hawaii.

A 2004 study referenced by the Department of Health found that sugared soft drinks are the single largest contributor of calorie intake in the nation.

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In fact, Americans consume on average 200 to 300 more calories each day than they did 30 years ago, according to DOH Kauai District Health Officer, Dr. Dileep G. Bal.  “Nearly half of these extra calories come from sugar-sweetened drinks,” said Dr. Bal, who noted research that also points toward a strong correlation between consumption of sugar-loaded beverages and obesity.

State Health officials say systematic reviews show an association between greater consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages and increased calorie intake, weight gain, diabetes, and obesity.

Adult obesity in Hawaii nearly doubled in the 14 years between 1995 and 2009 (from 10.8 percent to 22.9 percent respectively), according to state health officials.  Furthermore, Hawaii spent $290 million in 2003 alone on obesity-related medical costs, according to a national model for predicting obesity-attributable medical expenditures.

The state health campaign will be carried out through the Communities Putting Prevention to Work (CPPW) Initiative at the Maui and Kauai District Health Offices.

The CPPW initiative is funded by a $3.4 million federal grant awarded last year. The CPPW is a prevention and wellness initiative funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act , and administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“This grant is all about making healthy choices be the easy choices,” said State Health Director Loretta J. Fuddy, A.C.S.W., M.P.H. “This will help us in giving the people of Hawaii more opportunities to choose healthier options and enhance the overall well being of our communities and islands.”

Other grant activities include promoting the consumption of locally grown produce in schools, stores and restaurants; encouraging more physical activity by expanding Kauai’s walking, biking and hiking trails; finding ways for children to walk or bike safely to school; and providing fitness programs for people managing chronic disease.

“We know from our experience with anti-tobacco efforts that targeted media campaigns work and are a key component not only in raising awareness, but in changing social norms,” said Dr. Bal.

*** Supporting information courtesy State Department of Health

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