December 4, 2013
The good news: Over the last seven years, consumption of sugary
drinks declined among California children aged 2-11. Public health
campaigns like "5210," changes in the WIC food package, and healthy beverage policies on school campuses
seem to be working.
The bad news: More teens are guzzling the sweet stuff. As
documented in the recent statewide report Still Bubbling Over, more than 6 in 10
California children aged 12-17 drink one or more sugar-sweetened
beverage each day, and the rates are even higher for
African-American and Latino teens.
Even though the rates in San Diego County are slightly lower
than the state average, fully 40% of all children in San Diego
County consume one or more sugar-sweetened beverage each day. We
have important work left to do.
How can we make the healthy choice the easy choice? The San
Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative has spent the last
several months shepherding six of its best ideas into action.
1. Make it a priority.
Writing down your goals creates a sense of common purpose and
urgency to deliver. This year, the San Diego County Childhood
Obesity Initiative (COI) made the reduction of access to and
consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages an overarching strategy
across the entire collaborative. As a result, every one of the
COI's seven sector-based workgroups, or "domains," has initiated
projects to reduce consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in
their respective sectors. The domain projects are specific,
measurable, attainable, and promise real results. Check out a few
of the workplans on our domain webpages. Over time, the COI will track
how these mutually-reinforcing projects are impacting consumption
of sugar-sweetened beverages across San Diego County.
2. Educate your network.
Knowledge is power. On September 26th, the COI
Community Domain, in collaboration with San Diego Nutrition and
Physical Activity Collaborative, hosted a public forum to educate
local organizations and community residents about the health
effects of sugary drinks and help them brainstorm ways to reduce
consumption through policy, systems, and environmental change. More
than 60 attendees heard presentations from local partners,
including Rady Children's Hospital and San Diego Hunger Coalition,
and regional and national groups, such as California Center for
Public Health Advocacy, Berkeley Media Studies Group, and Center
for Science in the Public Interest. In all, 92% of attendees rated
the forum's quality as "excellent" or "very good." Attendees
generated specific goals to pursue within their own organizations
and recorded their commitments on postcards. In late November, the
COI mailed back these postcards and will soon post online key
resources to help attendees keep their commitments.
3. Define "healthy."
So, which drinks are healthy? The Nutrition in Healthcare
Leadership Team, a subcommittee of the COI Healthcare Domain made
up of leaders from 22 hospitals and health systems, reviewed
beverage guidelines from local, regional, and national
organizations and adopted a shared definition for healthy beverages
now available online. The group also placed
beverages in "red, yellow, or green" categories using a traffic
light model, which had already proven effective in the Rethink Your
Drink campaign at Rady Children's Hospital (find resources from
their campaign at the bottom of the Healthcare Domain page).
4. Team up with schools.
So much about the school environment is decided outside the
classroom. Policies that affect school breakfast and lunch, recess,
access to drinking water - even fundraisers and class parties - are
determined by a district's school board, advised by a wellness lead
and, in some cases, a wellness council convened by the district. By
connecting and educating members of these wellness committees and
people who can influence districts' wellness leads, the COI is
making schools healthy beverage champions. In October, the COI
Schools & After-School Domain hosted a forum of its District
Representatives - liaisons between the COI and districts' wellness
leads - to educate them on the new USDA Smart Snacks in Schools rule and how to
perpetuate a healthy beverage culture by writing it into districts'
policies. (Great examples are available from the Schools &
After-School section of the COI Policy Clearinghouse.)
The domain is also empowering parents, teachers, nurses, and
public health professionals to educate each other, get organized,
and take action. Several organizations have partnered to adapt one
evidence-based session of California Project LEAN's parent engagement training to focus on
sugar-sweetened beverages. On December 6th, the COI held
its first train-the-trainer session, "Engaging Parents in Promoting
Healthy Beverages in School," for a group of 18 attendees
representing schools, clinics, public health agencies, food banks,
and community-based non-profits. The trainees will fan out across
the county to deliver to their peers and parent groups one-hour
presentations on how to reduce consumption of sugary drinks in
schools through policy, systems, and environmental change.
5. Let healthcare leaders lead.
Who better to model healthy drink consumption than doctors and
nurses? On November 9th, the Nutrition in Healthcare
Leadership Team collaborated with PAC/LAC, American Academy of
Pediatrics, and Health Care Without Harm to conduct San Diego
County's first ever Food Matters training for physicians, nurses,
public health workers, food service professionals, and students.
This training educated attendees on the health consequences of the
industrial food system and lifted up local hospitals and health
systems doing outstanding work to bring local, sustainable, healthy
food and beverages into the healthcare setting. According to the
event evaluations, 100% of attendees felt the training was "very
successful" or "successful" at meeting the objective of preparing
attendees to "implement interdisciplinary strategies to model
healthy eating in [the] workplace," including campaigns to promote
healthy beverages. (Find Food Matters presentations here.)
6. Talk in dollars and cents.
Businesses are key stakeholders in the sugary drink economy. On
December 9th, the COI Leadership Council heard from
nationally-recognized public health leader Dr. Harold Goldstein of
the California Center for Public Health Advocacy (of "Kick the
Can" fame) on mobilizing for-profit organizations to promote
healthy drinks. Based on ideas generated at this meeting, the COI
will formulate a concrete plan for engaging area businesses in
activities that are good for their bottom lines and good for
Have you been doing great work to promote healthy beverages?
Tell us about it, and you
might find your organization's success story in a future
November 26, 2013
Classrooms are versatile spaces. In small desks flanked by
bulletin boards, students build academic knowledge, make friends,
and develop a sense of citizenship. But schools can do even more
than that. Kate McDevitt knows classrooms are also ideal places for
teaching young people how to be healthy.
Kate spent most of her childhood in Annapolis, MD, where her
father, an orthopedic surgeon at the United States Naval Academy,
taught her early on to value health and physical activity. After
earning a degree in Human Service Systems from Bucknell University,
Kate took a position in Washington, D.C., as a global events
coordinator for Chief Executives Organization. As part of her job
planning international networking events for a membership of CEOs,
Kate worked with some of the world's most accomplished chefs and
developed a great appreciation for the culinary movement.
Kate then moved to San Diego, where she served as the assistant
director of United Through Reading Military Program. She also
served on the Board of Directors of Slow Food Urban San Diego for
four years, helping to promote local food systems. It was through
her work with Slow Food that she realized her professional interest
in advocating for farmers and better understanding local food
production. Kate went back to school, earning a certificate in
ecological horticulture from UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology
and Sustainable Food Systems.
Returning to San Diego, Kate settled into her current job as at
UC San Diego, School of Medicine, which combined her unique
interests in promoting education, health, and local food systems at
schools in underserved communities. In this role, Kate brings the
UCSD Pediatrics School Wellness Programs to classrooms across the
county - and in Spring 2013 became the Principal Recipient of the
UC San Diego Exemplary Employee of the Year. Kate speaks
reverently of the public educators in her network: "Our teachers
really embrace their role in changing and bettering their students.
Their commitment to their students' health is incredible." She also
recognizes the unique role schools can play as safe community
spaces: "Families and community members understand schools to be
places where anything is possible. Issues that could sometimes be
hard are easier when they are discussed in schools."
While undertaking this work, Kate has been a valued partner in
the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative. In addition to
participating in the Schools & After-School Domain, Kate has
been instrumental in formalizing the District Representatives- a
group made up of public health and non-profit professionals,
parents, and others who serve as liaisons between the COI and
school districts' wellness committees - and getting its members the
training they need to make a positive impact on schools' student
wellness policies. She also participates on the Farm to School
Taskforce and recently encouraged the group to adopt a common San
Diego County Harvest of the Month calendar, which will allow local
farmers to predict and plant the fruits and vegetables that San
Diego County schools will demand in 2014. Of the Schools &
After-School Domain, Kate said she participates because it is "one
of the best collaborations for connecting the dots amongst school
When she's not at work, Kate is "a cooking fanatic and a sucker
for the San Diego restaurant scene." She admits, "I don't like to
cook anything twice." She was recently invited to serve on the
Board of Directors of Les Dames D'Escoffier, a worldwide
philanthropic society of professional women leaders in the fields
of food and hospitality. When asked to recall a favorite meal, she
described a memorable trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, where she had the
opportunity to "meet local chefs, develop an appreciation for the
rich history of food in Mexico, and try some
Kate knows better than most people the potential impact of a
meaningful culinary experience and has committed her career to
building the next generation of thoughtful eaters and healthy
Kate McDevitt is Senior Manager of School Wellness Programs
at UCSD Pediatrics, Division of Child Development and Community
Health and a voluntary partner on the COI Schools &
After-School Domain, District Representatives group, and San Diego
County Farm to School Taskforce.
November 22, 2013
What is the COI? Who are its partners? How does this program
impact my community? How could I get involved?
Every month, dozens of local residents and organizations from
across the country contact the San Diego County Childhood Obesity
Initiative to ask these questions. Now, we're dishing up answers.
The COI is proud to launch this online news feed, "COI Stories,"
which will host our e-newsletter stories, timely updates, and
profiles of ourstanding partners as they're written - fresh off the
As always, archived versions of the newsletter will also be
availble in PDF format
We look forward to reaching new people and posting engaging
content through this new medium. For questions or comments, please
contact the editor by email. And don't forget to fan us
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and subscribe to our monthly e-news!
See our latest newsletter and the COI calendar for upcoming
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