By Stephanie Stahl


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — First, it was sugary drinks, and now Philadelphia is taking aim at sweet snacks. This round is an awareness and educational campaign, not a tax.

It’s all about kids in Philadelphia consuming too much sugar, which is linked to the obesity epidemic and record-high rates of diabetes.

You’ll begin seeing the new ads and commercials soon. They provide information about the dangers of sugar, and strategies to help children eat better with fewer sweets.

“Today’s afternoon snack can be tomorrow’s diabetes,” one ad reads.

The new media campaign from the Philadelphia Health Department is taking aim at sugary snacks and how dangerous they can be for children.

“Sugary snacks can lead to obesity, which can cause diabetes and serious complications like kidney damage, blindness and even amputations,” one commercial says.

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“We can’t let diabetes overtake the next generation,” Philadelphia Health Commissioner Dr. Tom Farley said.

In unveiling the new campaign, Farley says sugar drives much of the obesity epidemic.

“The average child takes in more than 20 teaspoons of sugar per day,” he said.

The recommendation is less than six teaspoons of sugar per day, but most sweet snacks contain much more.

“Here in Philadelphia, 22% of our children have obesity,” Farley said.

“Snack cakes may be convenient but that convenience comes at a cost. Cinnamon rolls, doughnuts, cookies and other baked goods are a top source of sugars, flour and saturated fat. These are empty calories that fuel disease,” said Joelle Johnson, senior policy associate for the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

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The new ad campaign features Philadelphia families offering simple solutions to get their children to eat healthier.

“My secret is giving something healthy and sweet, like apple slices,” Fortune Walker said.

Walker, a mother of two children in Northeast Philadelphia, is featured in one of the ads.

“I think it’s important that we learn how to give our kids healthier snacks,” Walker said.

High rates of obesity and diabetes from sugar are often linked to poverty.

Stephanie Stahl