The City of Chula Vista Recreation Department and Knott’s Soak City have partnered to deliver a program designed to help fight childhood obesity. A two-week “Soda Free Challenge” is offered to children that visit Chula Vista’s Recreation Centers and Family Aquatic Centers. Participants are eligible to receive free tickets to Knott’s Soak City while supplies last.
The “Soda Free Challenge” requires that children commit to not drink soda for two weeks. Juice and sports drinks are allowed; however, they are encouraged to drink water and milk. The goal is to encourage children to curb consumption of high calorie and sugared drinks. In addition, participants will also be asked to track their eating of fruits and vegetables for each day of the challenge.
“We are proud to be able to support this important initiative,” said Tyler Currie, General Manager at Knott’s Soak City. “We want the community to know that our organization values programs that foster opportunities for youth, and we are excited to be able to reward these kids with a visit to Knott’s Soak City.”
The Chula Vista Elementary School District conducted an unprecedented Body Mass Index (BMI) survey of more than 24,000 of its students. The study reveals that 22.2% of students are obese and an additional 17.6% are overweight. Even more telling is the fact that 29.7% of kindergarten students are either overweight or obese, and this figure increases to 47% by sixth grade. Regionally, the South Bay has obesity rates that are among the highest in the State of California.
“We are facing a very real health problem,” said Buck Martin, Director of Recreation. “We believe that our recreational programs can be part of the solution, particularly if we can influence children to make healthy choices about what they eat and drink.”
The California Center for Public Health Advocacy reports that soda contributes nearly half of the additional calories Americans consume. In California, 41% of children ages 2 to 11 and 62% of teens drink soda daily.
“The science is clear and conclusive: soda is fueling California’s $41 billion a year obesity epidemic,” says CCPHA Executive Director Dr. Harold Goldstein, an author of the research brief. “We drink soda like water. But unlike water, soda serves up a whopping 17 teaspoons of sugar in every 20-ounce serving.”
For more information about the “Soda Free Challenge” and other City of Chula Vista Recreation Department programs, visit www.chulavistaca.gov/rec.