Sip Smart!™ Ontario in the Community

An Initiative of the Ontario Dietitians in Public Health (ODPH)

Sugary drinks are everywhere. Pop, fruit “punch”, sports drinks and many other drinks have a lot of sugar. Too much sugar is not good for a child’s health. The extra calories in sugary drinks can add up quickly. This can lead to an unhealthy weight, putting a child at higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. Reducing the intake of sugary drinks is a key strategy in curbing the rising rates of childhood obesity.

What is Sip Smart!™ Ontario?

Sip Smart!™ Ontario is a licensed classroom educational program that helps teach children in grades 3 to 7 about sugary drinks and about making healthy drink choices.

If you are an educator and interested in learning more about Sip Smart!™ Ontario in your classroom, click here.

Copyright & Terms of Use

Sip Smart!™ was created and developed by the BC Pediatric Society and the Heart and Stroke Foundation with funding from the BC Healthy Living Alliance. The Ontario Dietitians in Public Health (ODPH) is the sole licence holder for Sip Smart!™ in Ontario. All information, documents and photos on this website were produced and/or compiled by the Sip Smart!™ Ontario project team for the express use of Ontario educators.

Sip Smart!™ Ontario cannot be used in for-profit settings. The Sip Smart!™ Ontario Terms of Use is available here.

Sip Smart!™ Ontario in the Community:

Families and community members can also access fun resources to reduce sugary drinks in the home and other community settings. Look for opportunities to make changes at arenas, swimming pools, youth or community centres, curling rinks, bowling alleys, skate parks, or other parks and outdoor spaces.

Community groups can reinforce the messages children learn in the Sip Smart!™ Ontario classroom educational program by promoting healthy drink choices using other Sip Smart!™ Ontario tools:

Making Changes in Community Settings

Choosing a healthy beverage can sometimes be hard. There are so many different options to choose from. What you think may be a healthy choice may not be!

Sugar sweetened beverages are unhealthy choices and should be avoided whenever possible. Learn how to make healthy drink choices and how to work for healthier choices in your community.

Tips for making healthy choices

  • Choose water, milk, and plain fortified milk alternatives like soy milk when you’re at recreation and community centres. These drinks are the best choices because they are good sources for hydration and provide the vitamins and minerals needed to support good health and build strong bones. Check out SipSmart!™ Ontario Key Messages and Guide to Making Healthy Drink Choices to learn more.
  • Avoid sports drinks and energy drinks as they don’t have any nutritional value and are full of sugar!
  • Read the ingredient list. The best way to identify a sugar sweetened beverage is to read the ingredient list. If any of these words are listed in the first three ingredients, find another drink:
    • Words that end in “ose” such as fructose, glucose, sucrose, maltose, dextrose
    • Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, dextrin
    • Concentrated fruit juice
  • When planning a community event or a celebration such as a birthday party, choose beverages that are fun, taste good and are healthy! While there is nothing wrong with the occasional treat, unhealthy beverages such as sugary drinks are often the norm rather than the exception. Parties that feature healthy beverages provide opportunities for children to practice making wise drink choices.
  • Check out the SipSmart!™ Ontario Flavoured Water Recipes

How to ask for healthier drink choices

Are you interested in changing the types of beverages offered in your community? Making changes doesn’t have to be difficult. By following a few simple steps you can make a big impact on the health of your community.

Here are some steps that you can take:

1. Gather a team. Identify and involve key people that can help you make changes, including:

    • Facility managers
    • Food service staff (employees and managers)
    • Board members
    • Coaches, parent committees, volunteers and other supportive people in the community
    • Local businesses (e.g. grocery stores)
    • Public health dietitian
    • Vendors (e.g. vending machine suppliers)
    • Municipal staff/council members
    • Recreation departments/committees

2. Take a look at where you are now. Before you start making decisions on what changes need to be made, it’s important to look at your current situation:

    • What venues currently offer or sell drinks? Don’t forget to check with coaches about using food and drinks as rewards for success or effort.
    • What types of beverages are being offered? See the SipSmart!™ Ontario Key Messages and Guide to Making Healthy Drink Choices to assess which category these drinks fall under: Choose Often, Choose Sometimes or Avoid.
    • Who owns the vending machines, runs the canteens, etc.?
    • Does your facility or municipality have contracts with beverage companies that require you to sell specific types of beverages? Learn about the terms and requirements of the contract including any pouring rights, profits returned to the facility, etc.
    • What do people know about healthy versus unhealthy drinks? Is there interest in making changes? Is there a healthy beverage policy that can be developed? Consult with community members about the healthier options they would purchase.
    • What else do you need to consider?

3. Based on your assessment, what changes do you want to make?

    • Do you need to reduce the total number or types of sugary drinks? Some drinks, such as energy drinks, are unsafe for children and should be eliminated.
    • What beverages could be introduced to offer customers healthier options? Are they available from the current supplier?
    • What will be the easiest changes to make? Why? Who can offer support?
    • What will be the hardest changes to make? Why? How can you overcome these challenges?
    • What changes can be made now, in six months, in one year?

4. How are you doing?

    • Keep track of changes that you make
    • Check in with community members around their satisfaction with the changes
    • Keep records regarding sales and the ways you promoted the changes
    • Consult with coaches, managers and parent committees and provide them with tools so they can promote the new healthy choices
    • Educate your friends and family about sugary drinks using the great Sip Smart!™ Ontario resources

For more information on how to advocate for healthy beverages and healthy beverage policies in your community check out these resources: