A 20-ounce soda contains the equivalent of 16 sugar packets.
So says Diana Romano, a registered and licensed dietitian who is a family and consumer sciences educator for the Oklahoma County OSU Cooperative Extension Service.
In mid-November, Romano will be part of the 4th annual Capitol Dome Blue/World Diabetes Day program on the second floor rotunda of the state Capitol. The theme is “Don't worry, be happy.”
Representatives from a variety of agencies — including the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and the Harold Hamm Oklahoma Diabetes Center — will provide information about and promote awareness of diabetes, its causes and prevention.
Romano, for one, hopes to get children as young as 5 to choose low-calorie beverages. She'll demonstrate how popular drinks are overly sweet by loading representative bottles with one sugar packet after another.
“Children can look at that and see how much sugar there is in soda or chocolate milk or an energy drink,” she said. “People always react when they see how much it is.”
Calories and carbohydrates may seem like things children shouldn't have to worry about. But 2012 numbers from the state Health Department warn that 17 percent of Oklahoma children are obese, while 13 percent are overweight. Nearly a third of Oklahoma adults are obese.
Obesity is a risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. Oklahoma ranks above the national average in obesity and diabetes rates.
About 26 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and another 79 million have “pre-diabetes,” a collection of physical and lifestyle traits that put them at a higher risk of developing diabetes, according to an extension service news release. Recent estimates suggest that if diabetes rates continue to increase, one in three American adults will have diabetes in 2050.
The World Diabetes Day program will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 14. Those who attend the free event at the Capitol can take part in diabetes screenings, pick up free supplies, get treatment referrals and participate in educational activities.
“The idea is create more awareness in people who already have diabetes and advise them what they should do to take care of it, while also teaching people about the risk factors and steps they can take to avoid getting diabetes,” Romano said.
Dr. Terry Cline, Oklahoma Commissioner of Health, will discuss “Living Happily With Diabetes.” Other Oklahoma diabetics will share their personal stories, too.