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AHA improves the health and well-being of Wake County residents by facilitating and supporting community initiatives.

Perspectives June 2012

Two things have happened in the past couple of weeks that are noteworthy as they relate to healthy eating.First, I imagine most of you have heard about Mayor Bloomberg’s plan to ban the sale of super-size sugary drinks in food-service establishments in New York City. The ban would affect any regular (not diet) soda greater than 16 ounces, which is two servings. (A serving is 8 ounces, or 1 cup).

AHA Director Sheree Vodicka

To put this into perspective, a 16-ounce soda contains 182 calories according to the USDA’s Nutrient Data Laboratory. At 182 calories, that’s 9 percent of the average American’s daily caloric need (2,000 calories for a moderately active, healthy individual) and roughly equivalent to the increase in daily calorie intake responsible for the rise in obesity rates seen over the past 30 years (mostly from sugar and starchy foods).

(Factoid: If you drank one regular 16-ounce soda each day for a year without changing your activity level, you would gain almost 19 pounds, assuming your current intake meets your calorie needs.)

Would this new policy, if it passes, mean you couldn’t buy more soda if you wanted it? No. You can buy two 16-ounce drinks if you want to drink four servings of soda (at 364 calories or 18% of your daily caloric needs). The fact is, if you want to consume more soda, you’ll just pay more for it.

Mayor Bloomberg’s plan is not a ban, but a pricing strategy. People are sensitive to price. And sodas are often sold in food establishments relatively inexpensively. Take the menus in most fast food restaurants today – you can upsize a drink for mere pennies. But if I have to buy two drinks to get the same volume, chances are pretty good I’m not going to be willing to shell out the cash.

Dang, it just might work!

The second thing that happened is that Disney will no longer advertise less healthy foods to kids on its TV or radio programming. This issue has been ongoing for a number of years. The Federal Trade Commission and the Working Group on Food Marketing to Children issued guidelines in 2011, and studies of the industry’s response in implementing the voluntary guidelines has been underwhelming.

Disney as a major media outlet and entertainment industry leader is the first to attempt this. Will they lose ad revenue? Most assuredly. Will they strengthen their brand as family-friendly? Absolutely.

I look forward to seeing how the NYC soda pricing strategy and Disney’s move will shake things up to benefit health.

Close to Home

Last, I want to share two quick stories I heard this past week. The first was about City Camp, and how one of the winning teams came up with the idea for a smart phone app called “RGreenway.” RGreenway would show the greenway as a divided park and would allow people to know where they are and how to connect to other trails. Look for it to launch in a couple of months. We’ll tell you when we hear it’s out there to download and use.

The second story I heard was about how employees at Hughes, Pittman & Gupton, LLP, an accounting firm in Raleigh started thinking about employee wellness. Their kick-start to wellness was the result of working toward earning Green Plus Certification as a sustainably-operated business. Employees have started meeting weekly to do yoga at work; they started a “Game On” walking group, and now, several of the employees have organic gardens from which they share produce with other staff. Thanks to Lauren E. Joyce, CPA for sharing this success story!

You just never know what might spark an interest in wellness.

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