January 31, 2011 – In a continuing effort to educate New Yorkers about the potentially serious health effects of consuming sugary drinks, the Health Department today launched the latest installment – a new TV commercial and subway posters – of its “Pouring On the Pounds” health education campaign. The 30-second spot shows how a day's worth of sugary drinks can add up. Building on a previous campaign, sugar content is measured in “packets” to illustrate how a daily routine of just a few sweetened drinks can cumulate to a whopping 93 packets of sugar by the end of the day. These excessive amounts of sugar would amount to almost 1,400 empty calories of pure sugar – that's nearly ¾ of the daily recommended calories for most adults. The spot ends with devastating images of the serious potential health consequences of obesity and diabetes. The spot will run through February 22.
Subway posters that echo the awareness messages in the video also launch today. Like the TV commercial, the posters' overarching message to New Yorkers is: Are you Pouring on the Pounds? The posters will span the length of a subway car with each panel picturing the number of sugar packets in different types of drinks. The ads aim to educate people about the wide range of drinks that pack a lot of sugar, including sweetened teas, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened juice in addition to regular sodas. The 21 by 22 inch main ad panels of the car broadcast possible daily totals of sugar packets consumed if a person takes in drink after sugary drink.
“Too many sugar-sweetened drinks are fueling the obesity epidemic. Obesity and the serious health consequences that result are making hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers sick or disabled,” said Dr. Thomas Farley, New York City Health Commissioner. “This new campaign shows how easy it is to drink a staggering amount of sugar in one day without realizing it. We hope that this campaign will encourage people to make the simple switch to healthier alternatives such as water, seltzer or low-fat milk. If this campaign shifts habits even slightly, it could have real health benefits.”
Americans now consume an average of 200 to 300 more calories each day than they did 30 years ago – nearly half of this increase in calories comes from sugary drinks. The Health Department's 2009 Community Health Survey found that more than 1.9 million New Yorkers drink at least one sugary beverage each day – adding as much as 250 empty calories to their diets.
More than 700,000 New Yorkers now have diabetes and more than a million have a condition called pre-diabetes. Diabetes rates, and rates of consumption of sugary drinks, have risen sharply over the past 30 years and are highest in the city’s poorest neighborhoods and amongst blacks and Latinos. Diabetes is a progressive disease that can lead to blindness, heart disease, kidney failure requiring dialysis and the need for amputations due to nerve damage and poor circulation. Adults with diabetes have heart disease death rates about 2 to 4 times higher than adults without diabetes. In NYC alone, diabetes results in more than 22,000 hospitalizations, approximately 2,800 amputations and nearly 1,700 deaths every year.
Obesity is also associated with higher rates of certain cancers, including cancers of the colon and breast.
The new video spot can be seen on major broadcast and cable TV channels in the New York City area and at the Health Department’s website. The agency is also posting it on YouTube so that people can easily share it with friends. There will also be a 15-second version and Spanish versions of the spots.
Fortunately, there are many healthier alternatives to sugar-sweetened beverages. The Health Department encourages New Yorkers to look for drinks with less than 25 calories in every 8oz. serving. Coffee and tea are naturally low in calories, even when you add small amounts of milk and sugar. For more information on healthy eating, visit nyc.gov or call 311.