Only 15 per cent of Canadian Teens are Aware of the Youth Health Crisis

Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION Challenge Youth to Solve the Inactivity Crisis

TORONTO, Aug. 10 /CNW/ - Experts have stated that for the first time in history, inactivity may cause this generation of youth to die younger than their parents(1). But according to a new Angus Reid Public Opinion survey most Canadian teens are not aware of the threat. Almost 70 per cent of Canadian teenagers believe they will have the same or longer lifespan than their parents and only 12 per cent are logging the recommended minimum of 90 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day(2),(3).

When surveyed, 79 per cent of parents said they were either definitely or somewhat aware of the youth inactivity crisis, while only 57 per cent of teens said they were definitely or somewhat aware. With this disconnect, it is clear that youth need to be informed of the inactivity crisis and require the tools and motivation to get up and active. But there is good news. Once teenagers know of the impending crisis, two-thirds (69 per cent) said they were concerned. Even more encouraging is that 81 percent of teens said they would increase their daily physical activity levels upon learning about the inactivity crisis and reduced lifespan. More exciting still is that youth are willing to take up active living as a cause and encourage their peers to get active. When asked about physical inactivity as compared to other causes, teens said they cared as much about physical inactivity as other issues that were important to them(4).

Canadian youth are being challenged to solve this inactivity crisis: And Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION, the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada, are providing the tools to empower teens to be active living ambassadors with their peers. Sogo Active, the national physical activity program of Coca-Cola Canada in collaboration with ParticipACTION, has grown to almost 13,000 youth and 1,300 Community Host members in just over a year. This summer the program is reaching out to all Canadians aged 13-19 with more support, resources and incentives designed to get teens active.

"We know through our extensive research that youth are empowered by the idea of making a change in their peers and their community," said Kelly Murumets, President and CEO of ParticipACTION. "More than 1,000 Sogo Active youth were given the inspirational opportunity to carry the Olympic Torch for Coca-Cola in the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Torch Relay. Now, through Coca-Cola's continued commitment, Sogo Active is encouraging and supporting youth to inspire each other to take responsibility for their own health and find new reasons and new opportunities to be active."

Teens showed particular interest in the "challenge" aspect of the program and were excited at the prospect of coming up with their own activities and getting friends involved. Sogo Active Challenges are events and activities of all kinds, from running clubs to rugby games, from weekend yoga sessions to break dancing and everything in between. All Challenges will be posted online at The Facebook fanpage will be a hub of activity between youth and act as a key communication tool so youth can update each other on successes, encourage peer-to-peer interaction and discuss what gets them moving.

The goal is to have teens increase their physical activity levels to the recommended 90 minutes per day by joining Cross-Canada Challenges, taking local Challenges offered by Community Host organizations or creating their own Challenges and getting their friends to join(5). In addition, Community Host organizations are eligible to receive up to $500 in microgrants to support youth activities. So far, Sogo Active has awarded over $500,000 in local funding across Canada.

"What Coca-Cola and ParticipACTION are doing for youth is amazing," said Jesse Kaufman, Sogo Active Participant from Abbotsford, B.C. "It is a program where we have a say! It's not about older people telling us what to do - it's a program where youth inspire youth to make healthy lifestyle choices."

This August to November Sogo Active is offering a national contest that asks teens: Can you fill these shoes? Teens can register online at to create their own Challenges, engage friends in their province or territory to get active by joining their challenge and ignite a national movement for physical activity. Ninety teens will be shortlisted, and 12 will be chosen as Sogo Active Ambassadors. The 12 finalists will receive a grand prize of $5,000 from Coca-Cola towards their education, a $500 grant to support physical activity in their community, head-to-toe adidas gear, a Sport Chek gift card and more.

"For more than 125 years Coca-Cola has been THE brand to connect with youth. Through our partnership with ParticipACTION we are putting this legacy into action. Sogo Active asks youth to challenge themselves and their friends to get moving," said Bobby Brittain, Vice President, Coca-Cola Canada. "This is all part of our global commitment to promote active living by supporting a physical activity program in each of the more than 200 countries in which we operate by the year 2015."

About Sogo Active

Sogo Active is a national youth physical activity program presented by Coca-Cola in collaboration with ParticipACTION and its network of leading Canadian physical activity experts, teenagers and provincial, territorial, aboriginal and community-based organizations. Sogo Active empowers youth aged 13 to 19 to challenge themselves and their friends to get more physically active and solve the inactivity crisis. To date, almost 13,000 youth and 1,300 Community Hosts have joined Sogo Active, and more than $500,000 in microgrants up to $500 have been awarded. In the summer of 2010, Team Sogo activation teams, supported by Sport Chek, will be visiting close to 30 events across the country to spread the word about Sogo Active. Sogo Active is a $5 million, five-year initiative. For more information, visit

About Coca-Cola Canada

The Coca-Cola Company is the world's largest beverage company. In Canada, the Company is represented by its subsidiary, Coca-Cola Ltd. Coca-Cola is Canada's largest beverage company. Coca-Cola in Canada markets three of Canada's top nonalcoholic sparkling beverage brands, Coca-Cola, Diet Coke and Sprite and the leading ready to drink tea: Nestea. In addition, our subsidiary is the largest juice and juice drinks company with Minute Maid, Five Alive and Fruitopia. The Company also markets DASANI, PowerAde and other hot and cold beverages.

For more information about Coca-Cola Canada, please visit our website at or our parent company's website at

About ParticipACTION

ParticipACTION is the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada. Originally established in 1971, ParticipACTION was re-launched in 2007 to help prevent the looming inactivity and obesity crisis that faces Canada. As a national not-for-profit organization solely dedicated to inspiring and supporting healthy and active living for Canadians, it works with its partners, which include sport, physical activity, recreation organizations, government and corporate sponsors, to inspire and support Canadians to move more. ParticipACTION is generously supported by Sport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information, visit

Survey Methodology

The Sogo Active survey was conducted from June 17 through June 20, 2010 by Angus Reid Public Opinion. The study was conducted using online surveys among a total of 501 Canadian teenagers and their parents, who were drawn from the Angus Reid Forum. The results have been statistically weighted according to the most current age and gender census data to ensure the sample is representative of teenagers and adults in Canada. The margin of error which measures sampling variability is +/-4.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

    (1) New England Journal of Medicine. 2005. "A Potential Decline in Life
        Expectancy in the United States in the 21st Century". 2005.
        Accessed July 6, 2010.
    (2) Active Healthy Kids Canada. Healthy Habits Start Earlier than you
        Think. 2010 Active healthy Kids Canada Report Card on Physical
        Activity for Children and Youth. 2010; Toronto, ON.
    (3) Canadian Physical Activity Guides for Children and Youth. Available
        Accessed June 20, 2010.
    (4) A Look at the Youth Landscape, Youthography, November 4, 2010.
    (5) Canadian Physical Activity Guides for Children and Youth. Available
        Accessed June 20, 2010.


For further information: For further information: Media inquiries: Tiffany Astle, Hill & Knowlton Canada, (416) 413-4659,; Kayla Rochkin, Hill & Knowlton Canada, (416) 413-4767,

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