Interview: Skipping Sugary Summer Drinks

Media outlet: Global News Morning, Calgary, Alberta

Expert guest: Jennifer House, RD; First Step Nutrition, acting as Dietitians of Canada Representative for Interview; @firststepnut

Air date: July 28, 2017

Reviewers:  Interview review by Gina Sunderland and Sue Mah, Co-Founders, Media Training Boot Camp

Interview Rewind:  We are always happy to review media interviews upon request. We were thrilled when Jennifer House, owner of First Step Nutrition, contacted us to provide feedback on her excellent, recent Global TV interview on kids and sugary drinks. Jennifer shared her backstory regarding how she was approached to participate in this interview, and why it was such an important topic for her: “my regional Dietitians of Canada representative contacted me to see if I would be able to take this media spot for the Alberta Policy Coalition for Chronic Disease Prevention (APCCP). They wanted a dietitian to speak about sugar-sweetened beverages and kids, as one initiative the group is trying to establish is a levy on these drinks. I decided to take this media spot as I have a private practice (First Step Nutrition) that focuses on nutrition for kids, and I thought my audience would love this topic as well. My own 10 year old child is starting to like pop more and more, so I made sure he watched the clip too. The key messages were provided to me by the APCCP, and I had about a week to prepare. It was important to get both the policy/government-level solutions as well as more practical tips for the viewers and parents.”

Let’s watch Jennifer’s Interview:


Topic and Key Messages:

  • The topic for this interview by registered dietitian Jennifer House is “Skipping Sugary Summer Drinks” – why kids reach for sugar sweetened beverages, the adverse impact this trend is having on their health, recommendations for limiting sugar intake, and lower sugar beverages options that parents can offer their kids.
  • The topic of sugar sweetened drinks is perfect for the hot summer months when adequate hydration, especially for kids is key! Parents may not be aware of the amount of sugar contained in many popular beverage choices, as well as the potential negative health impacts consuming these beverages might have on their children. It is always great to pick a seasonal topic; this helps encourage viewers to tune in!

Strong key messages shared included:

  • Jennifer jumped right in with an important key message at the opening of the interview and stated, “it is summer, and hot outside so (kids/parents) are looking for something tasty to satisfy their thirst and sugar-sweetened beverages like energy drinks and pop are “really easy to find, inexpensive and they are marketed towards kids”.
  • She then backed up her initial key message with a compelling stat “the average 9-18-year-old consumes about 2.5 cups of sugar sweetened beverage per day, which is about the size of this Power Ade.” This is a fantastic stat that really emphasizes the importance of her topic. To strengthen this statistic is would have ideal to share with viewers the source the stat was obtained from. For example, this stat would have been strengthened if you stated “…according to Stats Canada, kids aged 9-18 years of age…” (It is always ideal to back up stats with their source, especially if it is a credible source.)
  • She also provided viewers with another important key message early in the interview by stating that the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that we keep our added sugar intake to less than 10 percent of our daily calories. Then you explained that for a 2000 calorie diet this would equal 12 teaspoons maximum. This would have been a perfect time to have held up one of your dishes with the sugar cubes containing 12 teaspoons to show viewers what that amount looks like. The camera zooms in on your bowl of sugar cubes at 1:11 mins but it is difficult to know which bowl has 12 teaspoons.
  • She provided another terrific stat at 1:30 mins, stating that sugar sweetened beverages are such a problem because they are linked to cavities, obesity and well as some other chronic disease like cancer and heart disease. With such dramatic stats, it would ideal to state your reference or source for this information.
  • At 2:25 mins, her provided excellent, practical advice for viewers with some great, clear, take away message for helping parents and kids with selecting the better beverage (and food choices) to help kids to stay hydrated, “Parents can have lower-sugar or sugar-free options readily available. I love these cans of flavoured soda water, or consider making infused water like I did here with berries. Or you can use any herb, vegetable to infuse water. Also consider making your own lemonade or chocolate milk with less sugar than the store-bought varieties. Also consider offering hydrating food. My kids love frozen grapes, they are cold and sweet, or water melon, popsicles or smoothies.”


  1. It is excellent to have about three key message for each interview that you want to be sure to deliver. Key messages should be backed up by supporting statements, and if stats are used to strengthen your story it is ideal to state the source they are from. This will strengthen the credibility of your information and demonstrates that you are in act an expert of this topic.
  1. Consider including a Canadian recommendation when possible. For example, she could have backed up the WHO’s recommendations by stating Health Canada also has a recommendation to limit total sugar intake (100 grams per day – this includes added sugar plus naturally occurring sugar. That would be look like about 25 of these sugar cubes, and considering one bottle of pop shown her already has 17 you can see that by adding sugar sweetened beverages into your child’s diet it is very easy to exceed Health Canada’s daily sugar recommendations. 

Key Message Delivery:

  • There was an excellent exchange and sharing of information between Jennifer and the host throughout the interview.
  • She smiled throughout the interview! Had excellent eye contact with the host, nice energy in her voice, enthusiasm and friendly body language throughout the interview.
  • She gave a good summary of the topic and spoke at an excellent pace that matched the pace of the host.
  • Also a lovely ending to your interview “thanks for having me!” – Very appreciative and friendly! We think you have a wonderful, friendly, on-camera presence!


  • Jennifer had excellent visuals to help share your story. This is exactly why visual are so important for television interviews. They help us tell our story, and provide an opportunity to educate the audience about good nutrition. She had the sugar cubes beside the beverages. This is a great visual to help viewers see the amount of sugar added to many commonly consumed beverages.


  1. She brought sugar cubes on air, but did not use them to your full advantage to tell her story. A consideration would be to better correlate the beverage choices with the sugar cubes that contain that amount of sugar. For example, you could have held-up the bottle of pop and said just this one bottle of pop contains 17 sugar cubes.
  1. It would have been nice to offer a general introductory statement about your first visual, for example, “Here, I’ve shown a range of different sugar sweetened beverages. The amount of sugar ranges from xx grams of sugar to xx grams of sugar per can / bottle.” Also, you had the right idea of using the sugar cubes for visual effect! To help the viewers better see this, we suggest laying out the sugar cubes on the table or stacking them rather than placing them in a bowl.
  1. Her interview showed a lot of brands. We would suggest covering-up the brand labels by either turning the brand names away from the audience, or by using dark tape, such as black electrical tape to cover the brands or even removing the product labels. It is always important to protect yourself from receiving negative feedback from companies for targeting their product and/or brand in a negative light.
  1. Her red placemats added a lot of colour and visual esthetics to her food display. However, they blended in with the red backdrop / sofa. To help visuals stand out, consider using a different colour placemat or even different colours of placemats for each station.


  • Jennifer looked fantastic on camera Jennifer! She smiled beautifully throughout the interview and her make-up looked professional.
  • Her jewel-toned royal blue top looked fantastic on camera and is a perfect colour on you with your dark hair and blue eyes. The blue top also stood out against the red studio backdrop.
  • Her jewelry was simple (light necklace an earrings), looked professional and understated, and did not interfere with the microphone or pose as a distraction to viewers.


  1. She could consider wearing her make-up a little heavier than she would for a usual work day, as the bright studio lights tend to wash out skin tone a little.

Overall Comments:

Overall, a terrific interview! Jennifer was well prepared and knowledgeable about her subject matter! She was very natural on-camera and shared a lot of great information and practical tips with viewers in a short amount of time. She spoke clearly and at a perfect pace. She did not use any acronyms, and did not punctuate her speech with any “mms” or “ahs”. For future interviews, consider your visuals to maximize their effectiveness when sharing your key messages. Definitely a fantastic interview!