First, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg banned the sale of mega-sodas by some retailers. Now, Howard County has come up with another system to reduce consumption of sugary drinks. A group led by the Horizon Foundation, a Columbia-based nonprofit, has launched the Better Beverage Finder, a searchable online database that reveals the sugar content of about 300 different drinks. The idea is to help parents and children find alternatives to sugar-laden drinks such as soda, sports drinks and fruit juices. Of course, finding alternatives, including flavored waters and diet soda, is no guarantee that people will choose water over cola. So the campaign provides some scary stats: a quarter of Maryland children are obese or overweight and sugary drinks are the No. 1 source of empty calories in children’s diets. Organizers add that if each student in the typical Howard County middle school drank just a single 12-ounce can of soda each day, they would consume approximately 10 tons of sugar over the course of a year.
“Setting goals is easy. Reaching them is where the challenge lies.” That’s the premise of a Facebook group designed to help people achieve their health and fitness goals by daring them to publicly commit to a different challenge each month. The group was created by Jaime Andrews, a Washington area trainer who calls her methodology “commitment training.” At the start of each month, she posts a dare on the group’s Facebook page. Among them: doing daily plank holds to strengthen the core, adding green vegetables to one meal each day and doing as many mountain climbers as possible in 40 seconds. It may not sound like much, but Andrews says that committing to small, short-term goals “accumulates day by day into a huge accomplishment by the end of the month.” Andrews also regularly posts advice and motivational comments on the page. It’s free to join the group, and the challenges are not limited by geography, so you can play along even if you don’t live nearby. Find the latest challenge at facebook.com/groups/acceptthechallenge.