Let’s start with our Soda Free Summer campaign. The goal of the campaign is to reduce consumption of soda and sugary drinks among children and adults in Boston.   As the summer temperature rises so does the consumption of these drinks. The average person eats almost 100 pounds of sugar a year, and the largest source of added sugar in the U.S. diet is sugary beverages. This campaign is to raise awareness that these drinks typically have lots of calories and no nutritional benefits.  

Consumption of soda and sugary beverages has been shown to increase risk for obesity and other chronic health problems such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes. These issues are very much a reality for Boston residents, as 52% of adults in Boston are overweight or obese, and almost half of Boston high school students are overweight or at risk of being overweight.   


Just how much sugar are we drinking?

A 12 ounce can of non –diet soda contains 10 teaspoons of sugar.

A 20 ounce bottle of non-diet soda contains 17 teaspoons of sugar.

To put this in perspective, drinking one 12-ounce can of soda per day can result in a weight gain of 15 extra pounds per year. Drinking one 20-ounce bottle of soda can lead to 25 extra pounds in a year.

Any reduction in consumption is a step in the right direction. Replacing soda with healthier options such as water, water with fruit slices, unsweetened tea, low fat dairy, or seltzer will have positive health benefits. The greatest benefit will be seen by those who reduce their consumption the most, or eliminate soda entirely. To support selecting a healthier option, CLICK here for the quick and easy Raspberry Sprizter. For other helpful information on selecting healthy beverages, CLICK here
 The Soda – Free Summer campaign is a fun way to encourage individuals and youth organizations to take the pledge to be soda free for the summer.     When taking the pledge, individuals have two options:

  1. I pledge to not drink soda this summer
  2. I pledge to reduce the amount of soda I drink this summer


Take the Soda-Free Summer Challenge and re-energize your life!

www.bphc.org/sodafreesummer  or www.Facebook.com/HealthyBoston

The second exciting thing about summer is that local produce is now available at Boston‘s farmers’ markets.  The array of produce is fresh-picked so it has not lost any nutritional value in the time it takes to travel long distances that may happen at grocery stores.  The variety of produce makes this the perfect opportunity to try new vegetables such as garlic scapes, which are the early tops of garlic as it’s growing. It’s great chopped as garnish or to add a mild garlic flavor to dishes.   Right now scallions, summer squash, cucumbers a variety of lettuces and salad mix are available.  As the summer progresses, I personally can’t wait for fresh tomatoes.Most of markets around the city have the capacity to accept EBT for individuals using food stamps.  If you would like more information of Boston‘s farmers’ markets dates and times as well as the Boston Bounty Bucks  program  CLICK  here.

 So let’s get out and have fun in Boston this summer, drinking healthy beverages to quench our thirst, and eating local produce to energize ourselves.


 We have heard the risks for overweight and obesity a health problem that can lead to complications such as diabetes and heart disease, so when it comes to weight management, most people focus on the calories from foods.  However another way to significantly control our calorie intake is to “Think about our Drinks

A large portion of added sugar in the American diet comes from sweetened beverages which are a source of empty, excessive calories which contribute to weight gain.   This means that they have calories but lack other nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants).    Calories from drinks are not hidden, they are listed on the Nutrition Facts Labels, but many people don’t realize how many calories they are consuming and these high calories add up.  Here are some facts to increase your awareness of just how liquid calories can contribute to excess calorie intake.

 A 20 ounce bottle of soda has about 250 calories and 68 grams of sugar or 20 ounce bottle of lemonade is 280 calories with 60 grams of sugar.  Both of these popular drinks have 17 and 15 teaspoons respectively.  These drinks do not taste like we’re consuming that much sugar, so how does one really know?  Here’s a tip from CDC‘s   Rethink your Drink 

Learn To Read Nutrition Facts Labels Carefully

Be aware that the Nutrition Facts label on beverage containers may give the calories for only part of the contents. The example below shows the label on a 20-oz. bottle. As you can see, it lists the number of calories in an 8-oz. serving (100) even though the bottle contains 20 oz. or 2.5 servings. To figure out how many calories are in the whole bottle, you need to multiply the number of calories in one serving by the number of servings in the bottle (100 x 2.5). You can see that the contents of the entire bottle actually contain 250 calories even though what the label calls a “serving” only contains 100. This shows that you need to look closely at the serving size when comparing the calorie content of different beverages.


Serving Size 8 fl. oz.
Servings Per Container    

Amount per serving   100 calories

Total calories for  consuming the  20 ounces =  250         


Another tip on the Nutrition Label is to read the grams of sugars. I always convert the grams into teaspoons by dividing the # of grams by 4 (grams to teaspoons)   Example:

20 ounce soda,            68 grams divide by 4 =           17 teaspoons of sugar

 20 ounce lemonade,  60 grams divide by 4 =           15 teaspoons of sugar


Another tip from CDC

Sugar by Any Other Name: How to Tell Whether Your Drink Is Sweetened

Sweeteners that add calories to a beverage go by many different names and are not always obvious to anyone looking at the ingredients list. Some common caloric sweeteners are listed below. If these appear in the ingredients list of your favorite beverage, you are drinking a sugar-sweetened beverage.

·         High-fructose corn syrup ,  Fructose

·         Fruit juice concentrates , Honey

·         Sugar , Syrup, Corn syrup

·         Sucrose , Dextrose


You can still enjoy many drinks, but now use these tips to make healthier choices.

The healthiest choice is to select water as often as possible.  Water is the best beverage for you.  Water contains no calories and it gives you the hydration your body needs.   You can flavor the water with slices of fruit with little or no calories added.  Be sure to check the nutrition label if you are purchasing flavored or enhanced bottled water. These waters often contain sugars and we don’t realize it.    Other healthy drinks are 100% juices in small amounts of 6 ounces per day and low-fat milk such as 1% or skim.  These drinks provide us with the nutrients (protein, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants) that we are often lacking by drinking other sweetened beverages. 

 For other beverages, check your Nutrition Fact labels and select drinks that contain 15 grams or less of sugar per serving.   If you really want soda, try drinking diet soda.  Diet soda has no calories, which is good, but should be consumed in moderation due to its chemical content of artificial sweeteners (dangerous in large amounts) and phosphorus (negative on bone health).

 Stay tune to the blog as we discuss more of the sour side of sweetened beverages.  Next week we will explore coffee and coffee drinks.