Reducing soda intake…and all that jazz.

Reducing soda intake

Music is more important to me than most things, and for years I’ve served on the Board of Directors of San Jose Jazz. Our Summerfest is the biggest deal in town every August, bringing 100,000 music lovers together for a weekend of celebration and performance. This year’s was maybe the best festival yet…

…and yet, when going over the books at our last board meeting we noticed something odd as compared to last year. Soda sales were off. WAY off. Like 50% down!

Fifty percent.

Ticket sales, beer, food, weekend weather…all similar to 2010. Could our efforts to promote a “Soda-Free Summer” be working? Well, let’s look at some facts:

  • The Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative (BANPAC, part of the VMC Foundation) has data that shows parents and kids are starting to get the message and reduce soda consumption.
  • There’s been a sharp rise in local media about the dangers of sweetened drinks this year.
  • The American Beverage Association (representing soda makers) recently called Santa Clara County’s anti-soda messages “misleading”. They’re not, and we have reams of data to prove it…but they’re worried, and that’s good.
  • Kaiser Permanente, the biggest supporter of our “Re-Think Your Drink” efforts in Silicon Valley, became a major sponsor of San Jose Jazz’s Summerfest this year!

Yes – this is a big deal. For the first time, KP was a major player in our Jazz Festival, setting up wellness stations around the Salsa Stage (the most physically active of the Summerfest, with non-stop dancing all weekend). They gave away water with fresh lemon to all revelers, promoting a healthier alternative to soda.

My friend, colleague and VMC Foundation Board Member Kathleen King takes all the credit: “My giving up diet soda this year is personally responsible for the decline”, she joked with me yesterday. But she’s on to something: The fight to reduce unhealthy drink intake is going to ultimately be fought one person, one family at a time. And with obesity and diabetes rates still climbing, a fight is exactly what this is. Please, join us—it starting to work!