Announcing: The HAB45 Public Policy Agenda

In late Spring we announced our Public Policy Agenda to the HAB45 Leadership Council. Today, we’re letting everyone know what we stand for and where we’re headed. 

Beginning in early 2013, HAB45 embarked on a new strategic effort to influence local public policies related to prevention of early childhood obesity. The HAB45 Executive Committee convened in March 2014 to collaboratively determine our top three policy priority areas that would become our Public Policy Agenda to:

HighlandRanchPromote Parks Master Plans: Access to safe places to move and play is an essential ingredient for early childhood health. HAB45 will advocate for city or countywide park plans that serve the needs of families with young children, including community goals to increase early childhood active play, preserve existing parks, form new parks, foster park safety, and create 0-5 play spaces.

nosodaSupport Policies that Reduce Consumption of Sugar-Sweetened Beverages (SSBs): SSBs are a unique driver of obesity, type 2 diabetes, and tooth decay. HAB45 supports policies that reduce availability, accessibility, and consumption of SSBs in Contra Costa communities, particularly among children ages 0-5. We are in the process of determining our role in supporting local policies that limit children’s access to SSBs, such as SSB taxation policies that generate revenue for early childhood obesity prevention.

breastfeedingAdvocate for Breastfeeding Accommodation: Breastfeeding is healthy for babies, moms, families, and the environment. California law requires all employers to provide adequate break time and a private space to accommodate employees who are breastfeeding. HAB45 will promote policies that ensure all women who wish to breastfeed are able to do so with ease.

These three policy areas fit within our existing work streams and represent the three major content areas of our work: physical activity promotion, decreasing availability of unhealthy food products, and breastfeeding promotion, all for children ages 0-5.

Our next step is to determine the specifics of our policy advocacy work. Stay tuned!

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The Truth About Juice

The link between soda and poor health is the talk of the town as the research becomes ever clearer on the strong link between sugary beverages and risk for chronic disease. For good reasons, the public health community has heavily targeted those bubbly sugary drinks, but juice drinks (and even 100% fruit juice, if consumed in high quantities) are similarly harmful.

y2515e02_1In fact, many consumers are unaware of just how much sugar is in 100% fruit juice (and juice drinks are a whole other story).

While 100% fruit juice contains vitamins and minerals, it also has a lot of sugar. Eating whole fruit and vegetables instead of drinking juice provides more nutrients like fiber, which helps us feel full longer.

Below is a table outlining common fruit juice and fruit drink names and their accompanying percentages of real fruit juice. Many beverage companies put pictures of fruits and vegetables on their product packaging to suggest health. These packages can be deceptive. Reading the Nutrition Facts label is your best bet for knowing the actual fruit juice content of these kinds of drinks. Make sure to look for 100% juice.

Juice terms

Adapted from a resource prepared for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations:

It’s best to avoid serving juice of any kind to young children and to stick to serving water or low-fat milk instead (or breast milk for children who are still breastfeeding). But, if you do serve 100% fruit juice, ensure your child or a child in your care isn’t drinking too much by following these limits from the American Academy of Pediatrics:

  • Birth to 6 months. No fruit juice, as it offers no nutritional benefits to this age group
  • 6 to 12 months. If juice is given, limit it to 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup and serve it in a cup (not a bottle) to avoid tooth decay.
  • 1 to 6 years. No more than 3/4 cup a day.

Healthy & Active Before 5 has a Healthy Food & Beverage Policy (and so do many other Contra Costa organizations). Our policy holds us accountable by stating that we will not serve sugar sweetened beverages or 100% fruit juice to children or adults at any of our agency’s events, activities, or celebrations. Consider adopting a Healthy Beverage Policy at your organization. If you qualify, your organization could get a $500 mini-grant to support policy implementation.

Need some ideas for alternatives to sugary drinks for your little ones? Check out our last blog post!

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Alternatives to Sugary Drinks

glass-of-waterProviding easy access to healthy alternatives for sugary drinks can help reduce sugary drink intake among little kids and adults alike. Sugary drinks, (or “sugar-sweetened beverages” in public health-speak), includes soda, juice drinks, sports drinks, and any other beverage with added sugars.

Studies show that when folks don’t have ready access to clean drinking water, they tend to drink more sugary drinks. And, when healthier beverages are more available, people consume healthy beverages more and unhealthy beverages less. All good reasons to keep healthy drinks within reach. Check out our sample Tap Water Promotion Policy for ideas on how to make tap water more accessible and enjoyable.

Need some ideas? Here are a few great alternatives for sugary drinks that you can serve to little kiddos (ages 2-5) or enjoy yourself:

  • Water straight from the tap. Tap water in Contra Costa is safe to drink. Chill it to improve the flavor.
  • “Spa” water with a slices of fruit or vegetables (lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, cucumber, apple, berries, melon, pineapple, fresh ginger, mint, basil, you name it!)Glasses Of Drink With Ice Cubes And Fruits On White Background
  • Low-fat/non-fat milk (or soy/lactose-free alternatives)
  • 100% juice (no more than 1/2 cup serving per day)
  • Sparkling water with no sugar added
  • Homemade smoothies made with real fruit and no added sugars

What are your favorite alternatives to sugary drinks?

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Rethink Juice Drinks

sugar bitesAccording to the FDA a “juice drink” is any beverage with some (but less than 100%) fruit juice that is diluted with other ingredients like added sugars. Juice drinks, soda, flavored milk, and sports drinks can destroy teeth, and lead to obesity and type 2 diabetes. All of these drinks contain added sugar, and most of the time a lot of it.

It’s hard to imagine how much sugar is in a juice drink container, but with a simple math equation, you can visualize how much sugar is in any type of juice drink, soda, energy drink, sports drink—you name it.

Nutrition Facts labels on beverages and other food products list the grams of sugar per serving. Remember not every drink is 1 serving!

If you divide the number of grams by 4, you get approximately the amount of teaspoons in that serving.


grams (g) of sugar ÷ 4 =   teaspoons of sugar

Screenshot 2014-06-02 10.22.25



Here’s an example of a typical juice drink:

← This juice drink contains 27g of sugar.


27g ÷ 4 = 6.75 teaspoons of sugar 


Now looking at those sugar cubes, would you put that many into a child’s drink?

Protect kids. Sugar Bites.

Posted in added sugar, flavored milk, juice drinks, Nutrition Facts, sports drinks, Sugar Bites, sugar sweetened beverages, tooth decay, type 2 diabetes | Leave a comment