On. Feb. 3, the Sheaf received a concerned note from a professor at the University of Saskatchewan regarding a tuition giveaway that could negatively affect the health of students.
Posters across campus advertise a U of S exclusive Dr. Pepper tuition giveaway, including six $1,000 prizes. Each purchase of a 591 millilitre Dr. Pepper comes with a ballot to enter the draw. The poster indicates that purchasers will increase their chances of winning each time they buy a new Dr. Pepper.
Angela Kalinowski, associate professor in the history department with an interest in food studies and health, feels that this contest is disingenuous and misleading, believing it should not be allowed on campus.
“It encourages [students] to choose sugar-laden drinks on the off-chance that they might win $1,000. I do not think that such contests, which encourage unhealthy behaviours, should be permitted on campus,” Kalinowski said, in an email to the Sheaf.
Alicia Mah, a Peer Health Mentors staff facilitator, also feels that this contest promotes unhealthy behaviour among students. She explains that drinking one Dr. Pepper may not be detrimental but that the contest has objectives that could increase harmful effects on the body.
“It is promoting prolonged consumption of soft drinks, which contain 20 to 40 grams of sugar,” Mah said, in an email to the Sheaf. “On paper, this seems like a harmless fact, but if you consider that a single sugar cube is 4 grams, drinking one can of soft drink is equal to anywhere from five to 10 sugar cubes worth of sugar.”
According to Mah, long-term consumption of large amounts of sugar can cause weight gain and high blood pressure. She shares the Canadian Diabetes Association’s recommendation for sugar intake.
“[They recommend] sugar intake to be limited to approximately 50 grams of sugar per day, based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Since sugars are found in other sources, individuals are likely exceeding this recommendation by drinking that can of pop,” Mah said.
Kalinowski believes that this contest conflicts with the U of S wellness framework, announced in November 2016, and that it facilitates an unhealthy amount of sugar intake for students.
“The university has just rolled out a wellness strategy and this seems to fly in the face of promoting good health in students. A 591 millilitre Dr. Pepper has a whopping 64 grams of sugar,” she said.
Patti McDougall, vice-provost teaching and learning, is co-leading the wellness strategy, alongside Cheryl Carver, associate vice-president human resources, which will focus on fostering a healthy mind, body, and life on and off campus.
McDougall also oversees student awards and financial aid, and she is aware of the Dr. Pepper giveaway. However, she was not involved in the decision to host the giveaway on campus and was unable to provide a statement directly addressing the matter. Instead, she outlined the framework of the wellness strategy, which she hopes to share with the university community soon.
“The wellness framework will encompass the areas of healthy mind, healthy body and healthy life. It is my hope, and highly likely, that the wellness framework and the action plans that are implemented will inform future policies, initiatives and partnerships the university becomes involved in,” McDougall said, in an email to the Sheaf.
As the wellness strategy has no control over the giveaway, Kalinowski recommends that students who do choose to participate in this contest do so in a way that disrupts it with intention.
“If you read the fine print at the bottom of the poster you will see that you cannot be forced to make a purchase to enter a contest. That is the law in Canada. You cannot be forced to purchase a Dr. Pepper to enter the contest,” Kalinowski said.
Mah recommends that students find other ways to attain money for school all together.
“There are other ways to get money for school, such as packing your own lunches, buying your own groceries, applying for bursaries or scholarships, and more,” Mah said. “Know what you are eating or drinking — the nutrition facts label on food products accurately represents what you are going to be having.”
Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor