DPS launches competition to have high school students kick the soda and fried food habit as part of DMC-Sinai Grace’s 61 Day Challenge

Detroit Public Schools high school students who sign up to take part in the 61 Day Challenge, a pledge to resist soda and fried food for 61 days, will be eligible to win a $250 gift card, the district announced today.

The 61 Day Challenge, which kicks off Thursday, October 31, is the brainchild of Reginald Eadie, M.D., president of DMC Sinai-Grace, Harper and Hutzel Hospitals, emergency medicine physician, author and community activist.  The Challenge is an expansion of the successful 2012 “Say No to Soda Pop” campaign. That initiative received national attention as hundreds of local Detroiters took the pledge and gave up the high sugary drink for the month of November.

This year, DPS high school students who eat a breakfast and lunch provided by the DPS Office of School Nutrition for 25 of the 32 remaining school days during the challenge will be eligible for a $250 Meijer gift card.  One gift card will be available per school.

“Increasing access to and awareness of healthy foods is fundamental to student academic achievement and the community well-being on many levels,” said Betti Wiggins, Executive Director of the DPS Office of School Nutrition. “We hope our high school students will pledge to be part of the 61 Day Challenge by improving their diets and eating a greater percentage of their meals through our healthy nutrition programs!”

“Saying no to soda pop just wasn’t enough, and the community deserved more,” Eadie said of why he expanded the campaign this year to include fried food and extended it to 61 days. “We are eating ourselves to death. With this campaign, we hope to educate the public on the dangers of these excessively consumed items and get them to pledge to make better choices about what they’re putting in their bodies.”

Dr. Eadie on Thursday endorsed Detroit Public Schools’ breakfast and lunch menus as healthy nutritional offerings.

According to information from the 61 Day Challenge campaign, soda pop is the No. 1 source of added sugar and extra calories in the American diet. A 20-ounce bottle of regular pop can have 17-19 teaspoons of sugar and up to 290 calories. Those who think they’re making a healthy choice by opting for diet pop fail to realize that artificial sweeteners found in diet pop actually increase cravings. Adults who drink one or more sodas or other sugar-sweetened beverages each day are 27 percent more likely to be overweight or obese.

In addition, fried food is high in fat and calories and robbed of nutrients, according to the campaign. Fried foods clog arteries, which leads to an increased risk of heart attacks, strokes and kidney failure. When cooking oil is heated to frying temperatures, cancer-causing chemicals are formed and permeate food.

“The evidence is overwhelming that soda pop and fried food cause unbelievable harm to our bodies,” Eadie said.

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