Teens create soda can bar graph to demonstrate increase in obesity rates

Teens gathered in St. Paul’s Mears Park on April 10 to create a giant bar graph comprised of empty soda cans. The bar graph will portray the rise in U.S. obesity rates throughout the past 30 years. The students used soda cans to make the graph, to demonstrate the role of sugar-sweetened beverages in this drastic rise.

In the past 30 years, the obesity rate among children and adults has more than doubled. Consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages as nearly doubled as well. Research demonstrates that sugar-sweetened beverages, which include soda, sweetened tea, energy drinks and more, have significantly contributed to this rise. Among youth, sugar-sweetened beverages account for around 10 percent of calories consumed each day.

Members of Catalyst, a youth-led movement to promote healthy eating and physical activity in Minnesota, constructed the graph, wrapping up a two-day youth leadership summit.

In addition to taking action on April 10, youth from around the state are getting involved in their local communities to get healthy food in schools and get students more active. In multiple schools, wellness committees are working to remove soda from vending machines and replace it with healthy alternatives. Students are also working with school food service staff to create healthier lunch and breakfast options.

Cambridge-Isanti High School students attending the Catalyst conference were (l-r): Cassie Terrizi, Madi Booth, Mike Seafolk, Josh Minnihan and Alexxis Minnihan. Alexxis and Cassie are on the youth board.

Catalyst is a statewide youth mobilization program supported by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota as part of Prevention Minnesota, Blue Cross’ long-term health improvement initiative funded by tobacco settlement dollars to tackle the root causes of preventable heart disease and cancer.

For more information about Catalyst or the Catalyst summit, contact Andy Berndt at 651-270-6589 or andy@bethecatalyst.org or visit www.bethecatalyst.org.