(CBS) — The American Heart Association hopes plenty of people make a New Year’s resolution to give up sweets for at least part of 2017.

The group is encouraging people sign the online pledge for “Sugarless Wednesdays” in a bid to improve their health.

Santrice Martin, director of multicultural initiatives for the association, says they want to prepare people ahead of Cook County’s new tax on sugary beverages, which takes effect July 1.

She says since African-Americans and Hispanics disproportionately suffer from heart disease, stroke and diabetes, they’re working with faith groups and non-profits to target those groups.

Martin points to studies that link high-sugar diets to those health problems as a reason to start by giving up pop and energy drinks.

One 20-ounce soda has as much sugar as 18 cookies or 6 doughnuts, she says.

Making the change only one day a week and just for the first three months of the year is a way to ease into what the Heart Association hopes is a lifelong change.

The beverage industry opposes the county’s penny-per-ounce tax, saying it will hurt the poor and small businesses and won’t stop people from buying soda.

The American Beverage Association points to a study of a similar tax in Mexico that finds the revenue did not go to fund health programs and the change in consumption was about five fewer calories per day.

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