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Sugar-Sweetened Beverages and You
Obesity: A Philadelphia Crisis

Obesity has become a public health crisis in Philadelphia.

One in five children and one in three adults in Philadelphia are obese. In some Philadelphia neighborhoods, almost 70% of children are overweight or obese.

Obesity and being overweight are major risk factors for heart disease, many forms of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

Many studies have shown a link between drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (SSB) and obesity.

A SSB is any non-alcoholic beverage with an added sugar-based, caloric sweetener, including sucrose, fructose, glucose, and other sugars (including high fructose corn syrup). This includes, but is not limited to: soda, non-100%-fruit drinks, sports drinks, flavored water, energy drinks, and pre-sweetened tea.

Philadelphians drink about 60 million gallons of SSBs each year (about ½ liter or 170 calories per person per day). SSBs have a lot of calories, but they have no nutritional value. SSBs do not make people feel full, so they end up drinking more calories than they need.

Sweet beverages can change children's taste preferences for the rest of their lives, causing less sweet, healthier foods to be unappealing.

What Philadelphia is Doing

Through funding from the Centers for Disease Control the Department of Public Health has:

  • Created hard-hitting media campaigns to raise awareness about the health effects of SSBs.
  • Established citywide nutrition standards for foods and beverages purchased, prepared, or served by City agencies.
  • Established a healthy vending policy that applies to over 300 vending machines in the City’s centralized vending contract.
  • Worked with corner stores to sell healthier foods and beverages.
  • Worked with schools to remove SSBs from school stores, fundraisers, and classroom parties.

Find out more about what we are doing to prevent and delay chronic disease, reduce risk factors, and promote wellness in children and adults.