Bexar County released details Thursday of a community coalition formed to educate the public and unhealthy effects of sugar consumption.
“I don’t want to get into regulating what people consume, that is not the intent of this campaign,” says County Judge Nelson Wolff. “But I think it’s important to help people better understand what they are putting in their bodies so they can make healthier decisions.”
The coalition includes government, school district, business, medical and nonprofit representatives and becomes the latest initiative to encourage San Antonio — one of the most overweight cities in the country, with approximately 29 percent of the population being obese — residents to adopt healthier lifestyles.
According to Bexar County, a national rise in obesity parallels increases sugar consumption, much of which is consumed through sugary beverages.
“Why focus on sugary drinks? Well, for one thing, they are responsible for almost half the added sugar in our diets,” says Bryan Alsip, executive vice president and chief medical officer at University Health System. “And it’s pretty easy to replace them with water and not be thirsty.”
Joining the coalition is the Health Collaborative, an organization that works to decrease consumption of sugary drinks by children, teens and adults while increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables.
“We have seen firsthand the positive effects that a healthy diet has on families. Through this strengthened community collaboration our families are being given a chance to make a positive lifestyle change,” says Elizabeth Lutz, executive director of the Health Collaborative.
Commissioners Court unanimously passed a resolution supporting such a campaign at its February 17 meeting. Just days after the resolution was passed, the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released its report for the next edition of the guidelines, and, for the first time, included strict limits on sugar consumption.
The coalition will begin meeting in the coming weeks to develop and implement the campaign.