Kansas Action for Children has launched a statewide initiative urging Kansans to “pass on pop” each Sunday in 2014.
The Topeka-based nonprofit group is asking individuals, families, organizations and businesses to take the Soda-Free Sundays pledge as a step toward healthier living.
Nearly two out of three Kansas adults and one in three children are overweight or obese, Sarah Hampl, medical director of weight management services at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., said in a statement issued by Kansas Action for Children on Wednesday.
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“The start of the new year is a perfect time for all of us to make a commitment to living healthier,” Hampl said in the statement. “Passing on pop just once a week is a simple step we can take to help us reach that goal.”
Carbonated beverages have long been the focus of efforts to curb obesity. The Kansas State Board of Education voted in 2010 to require schools to sell only water, juice or milk as beverages. Vending machines with soda and junk food can’t be turned on until at least an hour after the last lunch period.
Just recently, Pepsi-Cola of Topeka began lobbying the state board to allow sales of diet sodas in schools.
Officials with Kansas Action for Children pointed to a recent report by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation in which Kansas was named the 14th-most obese state.
Experts say an average 12-ounce can of soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar – more than a candy bar – and that drinking too many sugar-sweetened beverages can lead to health problems such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.