Rethink Your Drink

The average 20 ounce soda has the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar. File photo.

Wellness Now invites citizens to accept the challenge

Wellness Nowand the Oklahoma City-County Health Department (OCCHD) are inviting schools, organizations and businesses to join us in the Rethink Your Drink Week challenge by significantly reducing or eliminating consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

In conjunction with National Public Health Week, Oklahoma City has designated April 1st-7th as Rethink Your Drink Week. This week-long commitment to replace sugar-sweetened beverages with healthier alternatives is intended to help people break the sugary beverage habit. Participants are encouraged to drink water, fat-free milk, seltzer, or unsweetened teas instead of heavily sugared sodas, energy and sports drinks, sweet teas, and other sugary beverages.

While the Rethink Your Drink challenge is only one week, Wellness Now hopes to encourage participants to start making healthier choices on a regular basis. Health Promotion Specialist Mary Kate Henson says “We’re hoping that once people realize how satisfying other options are, they won’t go back to unhealthy sugared drinks”.

While consuming sugar-sweetened beverages might not seem harmful, the facts surrounding these sweet drinks are alarming. According to the American Heart Association, sugar sweetened beverages are the number one source of added sugars in our diet. These added sugars are directly linked to weight gain, obesity, cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.

These adverse health effects are at their highest ever, with obesity effecting over 500 million people worldwide. What’s more staggering is the way in which sugar sweetened beverages are impacting the health of children. Among children, each extra can or glass of sugar-sweetened beverage per day increases their chance of becoming obese by 60%. This has contributed to a doubling of childhood obesity rates in the past thirty years, from 6.5% to 19.6% among 6-11 year olds.

“Most people don’t realize how much sugar they’re consuming in beverages,” Henson says. One 20 ounce soda contains the equivalent of 16 packets of sugar. To burn the calories in that 20 ounce soda, an individual would have to take a brisk 3 mile walk – about the distance from Stars and Stripes Park at Lake Hefner to Penn Square Mall.

OCCHD employees will be participating in the challenge, along with many of Wellness Now’s community partners. Wellness Now can provide posters and other information for any organizations, schools, or businesses that would like to join the effort.

Please email to participate in the Rethink Your Drink week.

For more information on Rethink Your Drink, visit To comment on the challenge or to share your personal stories about Rethinking Your Drink, go to