By: Trina Robertson, MS, RDN
Americans spend nearly $1 trillion on beverages each year. Many of these beverages are high in added sugars and calories, and devoid of nutrients that are essential to growth, development and long-term health. In fact, nearly half of young children, between the ages of 2 to 5 years old, consume beverages with added sugars. Sugar-sweetened beverages account for 32% of added sugars in children’s diets, while putting children at a greater risk for cavities and weight gain. To help reduce consumption of added sugars in children’s diets, it is essential to increase awareness and understanding of how beverage choices impact health.
Efforts like California’s statewide ReThink Your Drink campaign, along with consensus reports and recommendations made by leading health authorities like the Healthy Beverages Report, encourage families, caregivers and consumers to choose water and milk as their primary beverages and make those options readily available for children for optimal health. Leading health authorities encourage milk and water as optimal beverage options, helping children stay adequately nourished and hydrated without added sugars.
To help support healthier California communities, Dairy Council of California, Orange County Public Health Nutrition Services and their Champions for Change “Champion Moms” program partnered to create a simple, one-page Rethink Your Drink tip sheet to make understanding which drinks are best for health easy. Titled “Make Every Sip Count,” the tip sheet is intended to help reduce intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, especially among children. The first tip sheet was approved by the California Department of Public Health Champions for Change in 2010, with over 200,000 copies printed and distributed. In 2020, the three organizations came together again to update the resource with current dietary guidelines, which focuses on making water and low-fat milk the go-to beverages.
This revised collaborative tip sheet has been tested with Champion Moms in Orange County for understanding prior to its release, and the results were very positive. Champion Moms are local community members dedicated to empowering low-income Californians to live healthier lives by consuming more fruits and vegetables and increasing physically activity.
The “Make Every Sip Count” tip sheet is a valuable resource for families, particularly when used as a teaching tool for educators and health professionals looking to help families understand the importance of their daily beverage choices. Simple to understand with large graphics and images, the tip sheet provides science-based information that teaches the importance of making every sip count, specifically addressing beverage consumption impacts on health, what beverages are the best options for better health, and the health benefits of water and milk. It also highlights the new Nutrition Facts panel, providing insight on how to read added sugars, to help identify healthier beverages from those with added sugars. Understanding people ingest information differently, a video walking users through the tip sheet was also created to emphasize the resource developed and teach the tip sheet as a ready-to-use resource in nutrition education sessions.
The tip sheet can be used as a standalone or in conjunction with a nutrition education class, providing students with a free, take-away resource that can be referenced at home. Print and digital copies are available by clicking here, with translated versions available digitally in Spanish and Vietnamese.
Trina Robertson, MS, RDN
Trina Robertson, MS, RDN
Trina, Project Manager at Dairy Council of California, is a registered dietitian nutritionist with more than two decades of experience.
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