By Nataly Tavidian, Grand Island/Hastings Reporter - email
By DaVonte McKenith, Reporter/Weekend Producer - bio | email
In their fight to combat obesity, Central District Health Department kicks off the "Rethink Your Drink" campaign. CDHD's goal is to increase awareness of the impact that one's drink choices can have on their health.
Julie Samuelson, a Hastings mother of three, was among the many health advocates at the campaign kickoff. She is trying to implement changes within her own family.
"[Soda] has become more of a treat for them. They (her children) can have it on weekends," said Samuelson.
Ryan King, assistant health director at CDHC, said the new campaign will raise awareness in the link between sugary drinks and obesity.
"What this is looking to do is aim policy that reduces access to it [sugary drinks] during work hours, or times we're in school. It does nothing to do what you want individually."
Dr. Robin Dexter, associate superintendent at Grand Island Public Schools said it was initially a challenge for the district to move toward healthier options, and the biggest challenge was getting rid of vending machines.
Dexter also stated it will be a while before doing away with sweetened drinks, and soda at all school events.
"We will have a group of people implement it slowly and go from there. I think our hardest sell is going to be limiting sugar drinks at concession stands; that'll be some education and some work," said Dexter.
Samuelson hopes her efforts to make her community healthy will be a success. She said whether people join the campaign or not, the option to have healthy vending machines may provide an answer.
"We had heard about healthy vending machines...but we thought this would be a great thing in getting not only our kids, but for a community as well. This has become such an epidemic on obesity," said Samuelson.
The CDHC covers Hall, Hamilton, and Merrick counties. They want to take the campaign and start discussions in all counties. From there, they will monitor how communities change.