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'Don't Get Fat-Smacked!' Boston Blitz Targets Sugary Drinks

Ever since my daughter's second-grade class learned there were 16 teaspoons of sugar in a big glass of Coke, she refuses to touch the stuff. Now Boston mayor Tom Menino is aiming to have a similar effect, writ large, on the city's youth.

From the Boston Public Health Commission:

As Boston prepares to phase out sugary drink sales in city-owned buildings, Mayor Thomas M. Menino today unveiled a hard-hitting public awareness campaign to get residents to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, which he and public health officials link to rising obesity rates and its impact on higher health care costs.

The campaign, developed by the Boston Public Health Commission, targets parents and caregivers who often make grocery-buying decisions for the household, and teens and young adults who consume more sodas, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweet teas, and other sugar-sweetened beverages than any other age group, according to a new US government nutrition study.

“With the launch of this campaign, I’m asking all parents in the city of Boston to join me in taking responsibility for helping young people choose healthier foods and beverages. And I’m asking youth – especially teenagers – to take a leadership role among your peers and push them to make healthier choices,” Mayor Menino said.


The campaign, funded by the US Department of Health & Human Services through an initiative called Communities Putting Prevention to Work, starts this week with a media blitz that includes TV, radio, MBTA, web, print, and billboard advertising. It launches a month before Mayor Menino’s executive order to phase out the sale, advertising, and promotion of sugar-sweetened beverages in municipal buildings is set to take effect.

So watch out in the coming days for a barrage of sugary facts also featured on the Websites fatsmack.org and sugarsmarts.com: "Youth between the ages of 12 and 19 consume 300 calories a day in sugary drinks." And "In 2008, Coke spent over $2.67 billion on advertising."

Readers, what do you think? Will this have an effect? And what's up with the issue of a state tax on sugary drinks? Is that alive in the legislature?

This program aired on September 6, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth blog.

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