Rethink Your Drink Week in Illinois, Dec. 3-9, 2017

IAPO, convened by IPHI, hosts seven-day challenge to educate communities on the importance of choosing healthy beverages

CHICAGO (Dec. 1, 2017) – As the controversial Cook County sweetened beverage tax was officially lifted, the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity (IAPO) kicked off a weeklong campaign — #RethinkYourDrinkIL — calling on Illinois residents to reconsider the drink choices they make every day. The campaign encourages healthy hydration and overall wellness with initiatives like “Sugarless Sunday,” nutritional cooking classes, an educational Twitter chat, community events, speakers on diabetes, yoga and meditation and more.

“Cook County’s sweetened beverage tax may be gone, but the dangerous chronic diseases linked to overconsumption of sugary drinks remains,” said Elissa Bassler, executive director of IAPO. “Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and obesity will continue to plague our county and its most vulnerable communities until we address the overconsumption of sugary drinks.”

IAPO and its partners – including the American Heart Association, the Illinois Public Health Institute and Illinois Chapter and American Academy of Pediatrics – are committed to supporting policies that improve the health and wellbeing of Illinois families. Despite the fate of the sweetened beverage tax in Cook County, they continue to educate people about the negative consequences linked to drinking too many sugary beverages. “Rethink Your Drink” week is a continuation of that work.

“Children who regularly consume sugary beverages have a higher risk of developing tooth decay, behavioral problems and poor bone health, among many other issues” said Mary Elsner, director of obesity prevention initiatives at the Illinois chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Healthy habits start at home, and this week is an opportunity for families to jump start a lifestyle with fewer sugary drinks.”

“Rethink Your Drink” week runs through Dec. 9, kicking off with “Sugarless Sunday” on Dec. 3. Approximately 50 faith-based organizations across Cook County, especially on the south and west sides, will ask congregations to go sugarless for the day, and collect petition cards giving churches the chance to win one of six healthy cooking demonstrations led by the American Heart Association. The two churches that receive the most pledge petitions will earn a trophy to be presented on Dec. 17.

On Dec. 4, the Illinois Public Health Institute and the American Heart Association sponsored a social media day of action, during which people shared their reasons for rethinking their beverage choices and encouraged others to pledge to do the same (using the hashtag #RethinkYourDrinkIL). Residents can also call Cook County Commissioners and ask them to invest in a public education campaign that raises awareness of the health harms of sugary drinks.

Throughout the week, events will be held in the communities hit hardest by catastrophic and disproportionate rates of early death and disability caused by chronic illnesses – like heart disease, stroke and diabetes — that research has linked to the overconsumption of sugar.

  • Sunday, Dec. 3: Centro Sin Fronteras will incorporate healthy drink options into their mass.
  • Wednesday, Dec. 6: IAPO will host an educational Twitter chat from 12-1 p.m. CST to discuss healthy habits, answer questions and further explain the negative implications of sugary drink consumption.
    • Centro Comunitario Juan Diego will also host a diabetes group at 10 a.m. where they will provide healthy drink options and discuss eliminating sugary drinks from community members’ diets.
  • Saturday, Dec. 9: The Pilsen Alliance will hold a free “Healthy Eating, Active Living” event at Dvorak Park from 2-5 p.m. Speakers from Alivio Medical Center and Aryuvedic Elements will share resources and information on diabetes education and prevention, general health and wellness and insurance counseling, while also incorporating activities like reiki and yoga.
  • All week: Esperanza Health Centers will provide education and training to CPS parent leaders in its community to inform their peers about healthy beverage choices for families. Mikva Challenge also continues to provide education, lead discussions and provide healthy drink alternatives for their young leaders at their special events and meetings. Mujeres Latinas En Accion will have an informational table at the Mexican Consulate, inviting visitors to sign a pledge card and take a photo.

“When I speak at schools and community centers in my south suburban community, it’s not until I measure out the sugar contents in certain drinks that my neighbors understand exactly how much sugar they are consuming on a sometimes daily basis,” said William A. Martin, Ed.D., Srewolf & Nitram Foundation H.E.A.R.T.S founder. “After personally watching two relatives pass away from diabetes and kidney disease, I don’t want other families go through that experience. Swapping sugary drinks for water, milk, unsweetened tea or 100 percent fruit juice is an easy change that pays off.”

Take the pledge to Rethink Your Drink here.

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