American River College recently hosted Wellness Week, a week-long event spearheaded by the nurses from the Student Health Center, Michele Arnott and Pamela Whipple. As part of the week’s final events, ARC hosted a Rethink Your Drink seminar on March 21.
The seminar speaker was Angela Gibson, a health educator from the Sacramento County Obesity Prevention Program. The Sacramento County Department of Health Services Division of Public Health created the Rethink Your Drink public health campaign as a part of its obesity prevention program.
“[The Rethink Your Drink campaign] is a statewide public health campaign that started in California in 2012,” Gibson said. “Its (purpose is) to bring about awareness of water consumption over sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Gibson said the program focuses on nutrition, education and preventive measures that can be taken in Sacramento County. According to Gibson, the campaign isn’t only trying to educate people, but it is trying to change the retail environments where drinks are sold.
Lori Beccarelli, a nutrition professor at ARC, said she has always found interest in science and health and knew that she wanted to work and gain knowledge in the health field so she could help people become healthier.
“Education about nutrition and healthy habits can certainly provide [students] with the information they need to critically examine their diet and lifestyle,” she said. “I think gaining that awareness and knowledge is important for building lifelong healthy habits.”
Beccarelli said she wanted her students to learn about drinks and the calories they contain. She also wanted to expose her students to different jobs and opportunities that are available working in the field of nutrition.
“In college we set a lot of our lifestyle behaviors,” Gibson said. “We are out of our parents’ house, you start making your own choices, you can buy what you want at the grocery store … so educating the college population then allows them to make those informed decisions on what to put inside their body.”
Gibson said that the California Assembly and Senate have introduced multiple pieces of legislation this year that are related to sugar-sweetened beverages and how people consume them.
“[Assembly Bill] 766 … would [require] a retailer or restaurants — anywhere that has unsealed beverages — to keep them under 16 ounces,” Gibson said. “This is like you go sit down at a restaurant and you only get a 16-ounce soda and no free refills, that gets rid of a Starbucks venti.”
There has already been legislation passed that has to do with sugar-sweetened beverage like the Healthy-By-Default Kids’ Meal Drink law, Senate Bill 1192, which passed in 2018. The bill requires any restaurant that serves a kids meal to have the default beverage be milk or water and if parents want their children to have soda they will have to request the change.
“The choices you make now really do impact your life and you’re setting yourself up for the rest of your lifestyle habits,” Gibson said. “It’s just really important to consider your health and the choices that you’re making and making small steps towards a healthier lifestyle — you’ll thank yourself later.”
The Sacramento County Division of Public Health will continue to be active within the community with the Rethink Your Drink campaign. On May 8, the Sacramento County Division of Public Health will host Rethink Your Drink Day, where the division will be promoting water consumption within the community.
“Students should check out what’s going on on campus,” Beccarelli said. “[At] any given time there’s something going on that could really benefit them as far as networking … but also picking up new information about health or about something else that could benefit their lives.”