The inaugural “Rethink Your Drink” campaign, a strategic initiative led by the City of Evanston and NorthShore University HealthSystem to decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), was met with great success. After providing healthier vending machine options and limiting options for SSBs at five Evanston sites, all locations recorded a decrease in SSB purchases and several had increased water purchases. Comparative data was collected from the vending machines at each site from June 1 to Oct. 31 of 2015 and 2016.

The Morton Civic Center reported the largest percentage change in SSBs purchased, decreasing by 60.6 percent, followed closely by Robert Crown Community Center with a 56.7 percent decrease and the Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center with a 49 percent reduction. Chandler-Newberger Community Center and the Levy Senior Center also had fewer SSBs purchased, with a 20.8 percent and 20.7 percent decrease, respectively.

The Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center saw a 29.3 percent increase in water purchased, and the Morton Civic Center and Chandler-Newberger Community Centers saw increased water purchases as well.

According to Evonda Thomas-Smith, Director of the City of Evanston Health and Human Services Department, drinking beverages sweetened with sugar can lead to obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. The ongoing Rethink Your Drink campaign challenges all Evanston residents to decrease their consumption of SSBs, and encourages healthy beverage choices, such as increasing water consumption.

Anyone who would like to have information about Rethink Your Drink or to schedule a Sugar Show presentation at your location, please contact Becky Rowland, Interim Public Health Educator in the Evanston Department of Health and Human Services: browland@cityofevanston.org or 847-448-8180.

Possible next steps in the campaign include:

• Continuing to decrease the number of SSBs offered in Evanston vending machines• Capturing water consumption from City of Evanston digital water fountains• Increasing the price of SSBs• Decreasing the price of water