Op-Ed: OCCUR Gives the East Bay the Scoop on Sugary Drinks


By Denise Deluca, OCCUR, Program Manager

At OCCUR we believe that all individuals should have the opportunity to live healthy lives regardless of their race, income, zip code or level of education, and that having information and tools to living a healthy life is essential. 


For the people we serve, low-income residents and youth in the East Bay, often the truth about the harms of sugary drinks and healthy alternatives is drowned out by the predatory marketing of the beverage industry.


Did you know that African American youth see 3 times as many ads for sugary drinks as their white peers? With 1-2 sugary drinks a day linked to type 2 diabetes, it’s no wonder that unless we change course, half of all African American and Latino children born in 2000 will get type 2 diabetes in their lifetimes.


Furthermore, medical authorities have established that sugar-sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in the American diet contributing to obesity, hypertension, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and certain types of cancer.


The data reveals a perfect storm for the risk of chronic disease. Beverage companies target youth and communities of color. Consumption of sugary drinks has increased 500 percent in the past 50 years and now is the single largest category of caloric intake in children, surpassing milk a decade ago.


And yet, studies show that cutting back on sugary drinks helps control weight, and more importantly, reduces your risks or even reverses devastating diseases like type 2 diabetes and heart disease.


This fall, OCCUR will join other local community organizations in combating the pervasive health threats linked to sugary drinks that are impacting our Oakland community. The program will train a cadre of residents to share facts and strategies for low-income individuals living in the East Bay Area to make healthier nutritional choices and whenever possible select water as the beverage of choice.


OCCUR will conduct the trainings in locations where we have supported constituents with safety net programming for over five decades. Students from the David E. Glover Education and Technology Center, a Program of OCCUR that trains youth in tech skills, will explore creative solutions to address this public health challenge in their East Oakland community.


It’s time to work together and get loud to combat the unhealthy forces that undermine our communities’ health and prosperity. Join us and change the future.


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