February 11 2015

The science is now clear – sugary drinks are making us sick. From the film “Fed Up” to the groundbreaking scientific work by the Sugar Science team at UCSF, and many other well-respected institutions, strong evidence of the harmful effects of sugary drinks cannot be ignored.

Consider these facts:

– Just one 12-ounce soda has about 10 teaspoons of sugar — more than the recommended daily maximum for adults and more than 3 times the recommended daily maximum for kids.

– Numerous studies link sugary drinks to chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease, cancer, obesity, even sexual dysfunction.

– If current trends continue, 40% of all Americans will get type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes, and half of Latino and African American children will get type 2 diabetes.

What’s also true – and just as distressing – is that Big Soda companies are targeting youth and communities of color as their primary growth markets for the 21st century.

In the words of Joe Tripodi, Chief Marketing and Commercial Officer for the Coca-Cola Company: “Vision 2020 is Coke’s plan to double its business by 2020… This aggressive plan is focused on dramatically increasing consumption of sugary beverages by young people using precision marketing that targets young people, mostly in Latino and African American communities in the United States and developing countries abroad…”

The communities Coca-Cola and other beverage companies are aggressively targeting are also those hardest hit by chronic diseases fueled by sugary drink consumption.  Big Soda is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to lure youth and adults into purchasing their harmful products.

That’s why the Shape Up San Francisco Coalition (project of the Population Health Division of the SF Department of Public Health) in partnership with The Bigger Picture (Youth Speaks and Center for Vulnerable Populations at UCSF), Alameda County Department of Public Health, Sonoma County Department of Health Services, and the American Heart Association Greater Bay Area Division launched the Open Truth campaign.  

The goals of the campaign are to: increase awareness about how sugary drinks are making us sick; expose the tactics of the beverage industry; and inspire policy changes that will increase access to healthy drinks, limit marketing to kids, educate consumers, and provide funds for sugary drink education.

At the heart of the Open Truth campaign are youth-created spoken-word poems by The Bigger Picture poets that were made into short videos. The youth poets brilliantly expose the predatory tactics of the beverage industry, giving a strong voice of resistance to what they see happening in their families and communities.

Combined with the powerful imagery of the Open Truth campaign, we hope to reveal the truth behind the tactics of the beverage industry and inspire change.

Join the TRUTH movement by:
SHARING our website and The Bigger Picture videos on the site;
FOLLOWING US on Instagram and Twitter; and
PARTICIPATING in the conversation.

Help us spread the word! People everywhere need to know the truth about sugary drinks!

Janna Cordeiro is an independent consultant working with foundations, public health departments, and non-profit organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate effective public health programs. You can find her on Twitter: @jncordeiro.