by Carol G. Stratton


DAVIDSON – Little did Bobby DeMuro know when he threw out a question on a social media site, that he had started a movement. When the Davidson College graduate posed the query, “What vice do you have a hard time giving up?” he hit Lake Norman’s Achilles’ heel, with “Soda!” the resounding answer.



DeMuro, a fitness trainer and former professional baseball player put out the challenge: Give up soda for 30 days and commit to drinking 60 ounces of water a day. In one month, through the social and mobile medium Twitter, 350 people responded and cut their carbonated drink intake.



Inspired by people’s response, he decided to form a nonprofit organization, NoFizzCharlotte, based in Davidson. He and the organization’s partner, Kate Kincaid, a life coach from Lenoir, have dedicated themselves to educating kids and their parents about the health risks of too much soda.



Armed with a 20 oz. bottle of Pepsi and a container of sugar, they present their program to elementary school students, demonstrating how much sugar goes into one drink. The audience is amazed as DeMuro and Kincaid pour 40 grams of sugar into one drink, double the daily amount of sugar recommended for adults. They explain how much water a student should drink during the day (25-50 ounces) and the benefits of being hydrated like having more energy, fewer headaches and more ability to concentrate.



In science classes – where they use a sponge to represent the brain – DeMuro and Kincaid explain how the body’s control center is made up of 80 percent water. The two also talk to student-athletes, especially football players who practice during the heat of late summer.



“We tell them to drink water, not Gatorade, and to consume 16 ounces one hour before a practice. During a game or practice the athlete must drink eight to 10 ounces every 45 minutes to prevent heat stroke.” DeMuro said. They plan a big push in the spring to educate high school athletes about the dangers of dehydration.



NoFizzCharlotte’s 30-day challenge has spread beyond schools. Robbie Hodges, of Charlotte, dropped 40 pounds after quitting his 10-plus sodas a day habit by dumping the fizzy stuff. In Fort Mill, S.C., a couple put a penny in a jar for every ounce of water they drank. Within a month, they had nearly $100 and splurged on dinner out.



Entire families got involved with the challenge. Kamilla Sepulveda, a mother who homeschools her children, was amazed to see her children’s focus increase when she instituted water breaks during the day. They had more energy and the typical afternoon slump disappeared, she said.



Besides weight loss, ridding soda from one’s diet can help prevent the development of diabetes. A study at the University of California at San Francisco linked the increase of 140,000 diabetes cases in the last decade directly to more Americans drinking soda. A Georgetown University study shows drinking only two sodas a week increases the possibility of being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer by 87 percent. DeMuro said the next generation will wonder why the current generation consumed so much soda, just like the current generation wonders why the previous generation ever took up smoking.



NoFizzCharlotte is dedicated to presenting a positive message to Charlotte-area families. “I tell kids, ‘love yourself and your body enough to take care of it and live your best life,’” DeMuro said.