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New healthy beverage initiative for all UMHS locations

Hospitals, health centers and Medical School to remove sugar-sweetened beverages, though patients, visitors & staff can still bring their own

As part of its commitment to nutrition and healthy lifestyles, the University of Michigan Health System will begin offering healthier beverages at its Hospitals and Health Centers, administrative buildings and Medical School this fall.

Starting in mid-November, UMHS will no longer sell regular soda and other sugary drinks in vending, cafeteria and patient care areas. The new initiative is part of the Health System’s efforts to provide healthier options to its patients, visitors, faculty, staff and students.

Sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) will be removed from vending machines, coffee kiosks and cafeterias in the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers both on and off the Medical Campus.

SSBs include:

  • Carbonated  soft drinks with sugar
  • Fruit-flavored drinks with minimal or no juice in them
  • Sports drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Pre-sweetened teas and coffees

Water, milk, juice and diet beverages will all be available, as will non-sweetened coffee and tea.  Packets of sugar and non-sugar alternatives will be available for those who wish to sweeten their tea and coffee. This change does not affect the University of Michigan’s central campus.

Patients, visitors and staff can bring their own beverages to any UMHS hospital, clinic, office or lab, and U-M hospital inpatients will be allowed to consume SSBs brought by their visitors if their  physician allows it.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are a source of nutrition-less or ’empty’ calories in the American diet and a significant contributor to obesity,” says Valerie Castle, M.D., chair of the Department of Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases at the U-M Medical School and a lead physician at C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital. “By providing healthier beverage options on our medical campus and other locations, we are making it easier for our community to achieve healthier lifestyles.”

“Calories from sugar sweetened beverages are a significant contributor to obesity and its attendant risks for heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and stroke in our country,” adds Kim Eagle, M.D., Albion Walter Hewlett Professor of Internal Medicine and a director of the U-M Health System’s Frankel Cardiovascular Center.

The move puts UMHS at the forefront of a growing national group of health care facilities to remove SSBs, including Seattle Children’s Hospital, Indiana University, Cleveland Clinic, Vanguard Health, and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

“The Health System is committed to providing healthy options to our community,” says Tony Denton, chief operating officer, U-M Hospitals and Health Centers. “By being one of the first major health systems in Michigan to implement this program, the U-M Health System is further establishing itself as a leader in all aspects of health care.”

In recent years, UMHS has designated more than 60 percent of food options at the University Hospital Cafeteria and 90 percent of food at the Cardiovascular Center café as meeting MHealthy guidelines. UMHS has also greatly reduced trans fats and fried foods served to patients and staff.

The healthy beverage program is supported by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative of the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.

For more information on this initiative, visit http://www.uofmhealth.org/drink.

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