Healthy Beverages

Tri-County Health Department (TCHD) supports lowering the amount of sugary beverages people drink and encourages healthy, hydrating beverages instead. We want to help communities ensure that serving healthy beverages is the standard, not the exception, in the places where we live, work, learn, and play!

Why focus on Healthy Beverages?

  • Sugary drinks are the single largest source of calories and added sugar to our diet1. Sugary beverages are those with sugar added, such as soda, juice drink, fruit punch, lemonade, sports drinks, energy drinks, and sweetened teas/coffees.
  • By drinking just one sugary drink a day, a child has:
    • 25% increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes2
    • 55% greater risk of experiencing overweight or obesity3
    • Twice the chance of having tooth decay as children who rarely drink sugary beverages4
  • Drinking sugary beverages every day has also been shown to increase unhealthy fat deposits in the liver, which can lead to heart disease5,6.
  • The most recent data shows that in Colorado, 14.2% of children7 and 29.5% of adults8 drank one or more sugary drinks per day.
  • 65.8% of Adams County, 58.8% of Arapahoe County and 57.2% of Douglas County adults experience overweight or obesity7.
  • 34.9% of Adams County, 19.3% of Arapahoe County and 9.7% of Douglas County school-aged children (ages 5-14) experience overweight or obesity9.
  • Sugary beverages provide extra calories with little to no nutritional value.

What are we doing at TCHD?

Healthy Children's Menu Initiative
Our staff here support restaurants to promote healthy drinks as standard on children's menus. Healthy drinks are those with no added sugar such as: water, sparkling water, and unflavored milk (or milk substitute).

Healthy Drink Choices - water and unflavored milk

Why Children's Meals?

  • Having standard healthy drinks on children's menus sets our kids up for a healthy future while still honoring a parent's choice. Healthful kids' meals were listed as a trend in the National Restaurants Association's What's Hot 2018 Culinary Forecast (PDF).
  • Many national chains have already moved to list healthy drinks and sides on their children's menus.
  • What a toddler or preschooler drinks now can lead them to choose that beverage for life
  • When a healthy drink is listed as the default choice on a menu, people are 66% more likely to choose it10.
  • For restaurants, this costs nothing and doesn't take much effort because a children's meal often includes a drink in the price. It also sends a positive message that the restaurant supports youth health.
  • People can still order any drink they wish. Healthy children's meal menus make the healthy choice easier!

Where Else is This Happening?

This approach has been adopted in cities nationwide, recently with TCHD's neighbor - Lafayette, Colorado, led by the Lafayette Youth Advisory Council!

Hidden Sugar Campaign
Keep an eye out at community events and online for information shared about the sugar that can be hidden in the beverages our young people are consuming.

In Colorado, 1 out of 5 children has at least 1 sugary drink per day.

Many parents and caregivers are not aware of the hidden sugar in some of the beverages that they give to their children. The Healthy Beverage Partnership created the Hidden Sugar campaign with input from parents to educate about the harmful effects of sugar and the high sugar content in many beverages.

Through simple graphics, the Hidden Sugar campaign compares the sugar levels of drinks like juice, sports drinks, and soda to the sugar levels found in sugary foods and desserts, such as cookies, donuts, and more.

Infographic showing sugary drinks and the equivalent amount of sugar in number of cookies.

To learn more about the Hidden Sugar Campaign and how to choose healthy drinks, visit the website.

Where can one find more information?

Healthy Beverage Partnership

Tri-County Health Department represents Adams, Arapahoe, and Douglas Counties on the regional Healthy Beverage Partnership. The Healthy Beverage Partnership is made up of six lead agencies: Boulder County Public Health, Broomfield Public Health and Environment, Denver Department of Public Health and Environment, Denver Public Health, Jefferson County Public Health, and Tri-County Health Department. Each agency is leading local efforts to engage residents in community-level work to improve beverages served, shift norms, and build healthier community environments together. References:

  1. Welsh JA, Sharma AJ, Grellinger L, Vos MB. Consumption of added sugars is decreasing in the United States. Am J Clin Nutrition. 2011;94(3):726-734
  2. Malik VS, Popkin BM, Bray GA, Despres JP, Willett WC, Hu FB. Sugar-sweetened beverages and risk of metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes: a meta-analysis. Diabetes Care. 2010;33:2477-83.
  3. Morenga LT, Mallard S, Mann J. Dietary sugars and body weight: systematic review and meta-analyses of randomized controlled trials and cohort studies. Brit Med J. Jan 15 2013;346.
  4. Sohn W, Burt BA, Sowers MR. Carbonated Soft Drinks and Dental Caries in the Primary Dentition. J Dent Res. 2006; 85(3): 262–266.
  5. Maersk M, Belza A, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Ringgaard S, et al. Sucrose-sweetened beverages increase fat storage in the liver, muscle, and visceral fat depot: a 6-mo randomized intervention study, Am J Clinical Nutrition. 2012; 95(2): 283–289
  6. Malik VS, Hu FB. Fructose and Cardiometabolic Health: What the Evidence from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Tells Us. J Amer Coll Cardiology. 2015;66(14):1615-1624.
  7. Colorado Child Health Survey 2016
  8. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 2013-2015
  9. Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance Survey 2014-2016
  10. Peters J, Beck J, Lande J, Pan Z, Cardel M, Ayoob K, Hill J. "Using Healthy Defaults in Walt Disney World Restaurants to Improve Nutrition." The Behavioral Science of Eating 2016, volume 92-103.