As part of an initiative to foster better health and nutrition among students, Wheatland Union High School integrated the Rethink Your Drink module to demonstrate how much sugar people consume in popular beverages.
Over 500 students participated in the program during their physical education classes on Feb 27. Rethink Your Drink was developed by the California Department of Public Health to educate teens on healthy drink options, moderation when consuming products with high-sugar content and identifying the health risks of a high-sugar diet.
During the module, students were able to measure and compare the physical amount of sugar in different beverages. Director of Health Services for the Wheatland Union High School District Lisa Phillips believes that it was an eye-opening visual for teens who regularly consume soda, coffee and energy drinks.
“The average person consumes 100 pounds of sugar every year. Kids don’t think about the amount of sugar they’re eating and drinking on a given day. They took the amounts of sugar in a variety of drinks like Coke and Starbucks and the looks on their faces were like ‘Oh my god,’” Phillips said.
She believes that this program was especially effective due to the visual aspect of seeing how much sugar someone can consume in a small beverage.
“When you weigh out how many grams of sugar are in your soda, it changes their perspective. They look at the physical amount and think, ‘I wouldn’t eat 35 grams of straight sugar. That’s gross.’ But you don’t think of that same amount being a Dutch Bros. drink,” Phillips said.
Rethink Your Drink was established to help people shift their habits toward consuming healthier beverages like water while highlighting its accessibility and affordability. The program also encourages people to break down nutrition labels to better understand what they are eating and drinking. Public health officials recommend paying attention to serving sizes listed on a package because one container does not always equal one serving.
Phillips said that the program will be opened up to students on the medical Career Technical Education pathway. It will be brought back as a lunchtime activity for all students in the near future.
Following the program, Phillips said that a parent called her office to say that a student was asking for cases of water at home.
“Even just one student showing healthier habits makes it all worth it,” she said.