August 26, 2015

Press Release # 035-15
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MEDIA CONTACT: Christopher Miller/Veronica Lewin (347) 396-4177

Youth Increase Awareness about Damaging Effects of Sugary Drinks in Communities Across City

#OurVoiceNYC amplifies the vision, voices, and actions of young people to create a just and healthier NYC

The Health Department today announced the launch of #OurVoiceNYC, a program that engages youth aged 13 to 19 from across New York City to serve as key partners in agency public health campaigns. The agency’s Center for Health Equity has trained and educated more than 100 youth throughout the city to be health ambassadors in their communities. Over a dozen young people living in neighborhoods with the highest burden of disease expressed their views on how their communities are flooded with unhealthy marketing messages. Today, these youth and their peers will tour the city on a double-decker digital bus, raising awareness about predatory marketing and the damaging effects of sugary drinks. The bus will stop near Brooklyn Borough Hall, Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, Adam Clayton Powell Plaza in Harlem, and end at Times Square. At each stop, the youth will spread the word to peers and other passersby by doing street interviews and passing out educational information.

 “#OurVoiceNYC seeks to empower youth in communities burdened by chronic disease to make better decisions about their own health, and encourage their peers to do the same,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “We know that youth listen to their peers when it comes to messages about their health. As activists for health, our trained youth will speak to their peers about the dangers of sugary drinks and make a difference in their community.”

Data suggest that children view about 13 food and drink ads on TV a day, and most ads are for unhealthy products. According to a recent Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity report, “Black and Hispanic youth receive a ‘double dose’ of food marketing that promotes products high in sugar, saturated fat and sodium. Compared to White non-Hispanic youth, they are exposed to more food advertising in the media, as well as more marketing messages in their communities. This exposure contributes to greater consumption of fast food and sugary drinks, and contributes to higher rates of obesity and other diet-related diseases in Black and Hispanic communities.” Compared with their White peers, the report found that Black children and teens saw more than twice as many TV ads for candy, gum, snacks and sugary drinks.

The Health Department also launched a social media campaign to reach youth online. To follow today’s bus tour on social media, follow @OurVoiceNYC on Twitter, or use the hashtags #SodaKills or #OurVoiceNYC to follow the conversation on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.