Trenton Health Team this week launched a truth campaign across social media to highlight the health risks associated with drinking sugar-sweetened beverages.

THT is partnering with Trenton celebrities; including Splash Lifestyle entrepreneurs Sino Lawery and Eugene Woods, Harlem Globetrotter professional basketball player La’Keisha Sutton (aka FanFavorite11), mural artist Leon Rainbow, beauty influencer Nia Stewart and TikTok’s Splash Twinz Treona and Trechelle; to deliver the message that water is your best option. Watch their social media for #TrentonSugarfreed.

“We work out a lot and we drink a lot of water to stay healthy,” Lawery notes. “We stay away from soda–it’s not good for you, man.”

The #TrentonSugarfreed campaign, supported by a Trinity Health Transforming Communities Initiative grant, features a series of videos, infographics, a TrentonSugarfreed Facebook page (@trentonsugarfreed) and a #Trenton Sugarfreed website sharing facts about effect of sugary drinks and tips for avoiding sugar-sweetened drinks.

Many drinks that claim to be packed with vitamins, antioxidants and electrolytes also are loaded with sugar, such as corn sweetener, corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, raw sugar and sucrose. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that frequently drinking such beverages is associated with weight gain/obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and tooth decay.

Among youth, approximately 11% of calories consumed come from sugar-sweetened beverages–and research shows every 12-ounce soft drink consumed per day by children increases their odds of becoming obese by 60%.

“The SSB industry disproportionately advertises to people of color and youth living in low-income communities,” said Elena Cromeyer, MPH, project director for the #TrentonSugarfreed campaign. “Our campaign tells the truth about these drinks.”

In Trenton, obesity rates among adults and children exceed both state and national averages and 13% of adults in Trenton has diabetes–again exceeding both national and state rates. According to the 2019 Trenton Community Health Needs and Asset Assessment, diabetes ranks as the eighth leading cause of death in New Jersey, with 2,000 deaths per year.

“Too many people in Trenton suffer from obesity and diabetes–and sugar-sweetened drinks are a big part of the problem,” said Gregory Paulson, THT executive director. “Hearing from these influencers and learning all the reasons these drinks are so bad for you will help people make the healthy choice.”