As part of a commitment to the health and wellbeing of our community, beginning mid-November 2013, the University of Michigan Health System will only sell and distribute healthy beverages at our Hospitals and Health Centers, administrative buildings, and Medical School.
Sugar-sweetened beverages often contribute to obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart issues, bone and joint stress, and poor dental health. The goal of the Healthy Beverage Program is to help our community avoid the easy trap of empty, drinkable calories.
The University of Michigan Health System is one of the first in the state to take this step, but others across the nation have launched similar programs. This is the latest of our efforts to create a healthy environment for our community. Previously, we’ve banned smoking, reduced fried foods and trans fats, and labeled healthier cafeteria food options as “MHealthy.” The Healthy Beverage Program is supported by the Healthier Hospitals Initiative and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association.
Patients, visitors, staff, and students can still bring any beverage they choose with them to our buildings.
Beverages that are available include:
- Flavored or infused waters
- 100% fruit juice
- Diet beverages
- Coffee and sugar-free sweetened coffee drinks (sugar packets will be available)
Beverages we will no longer sell or distribute include:
- Non-diet soft drinks
- Sweetened fruit-flavored drinks
- Sports drinks
- Energy drinks
- Sweetened teas
- Sweetened coffees
Where will the changes be seen?
These changes will be seen in cafeterias, coffee kiosks, vending machines, and inpatient dining options in all our Hospitals and Health Centers, administrative buildings and Medical School. This will not be seen in the North Campus Research Complex. On occasion, a patient staying in the hospital may receive approval from their doctor to have special exceptions ordered, and we will keep a small stock of sugary beverages available.
Why aren’t diet sodas being removed from UMHS?
The primary goal of this program is to reduce obesity and its related health conditions - such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, bone and joint stress, and poor dental health - that arise from over-consumption of sugar. By offering beverages with non-nutritive sweeteners (NNS) and not sugar sweetened beverages, the UMHS community will be able to avoid drinks with added sugar and calories and no nutritional benefits. The U. S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), The National Cancer Institute (NCI), and The International Food Information Council Foundation all consider NNS, like those found in diet sodas, to be safe.
Aspartame is a NNS found in diet beverages, a dry ingredient in foods, and table top sweeteners such as Equal and NutriSweet. It contains the amino acids phenylalanine and aspartic acid which occur naturally in protein-containing foods. It is 200 times sweeter than table sugar, therefore only small quantities are required to sweeten products. Discovered in 1965, the FDA approved the use of aspartame in 1981 and it continues to be safe for human consumption unless you have the rare genetic disorder Phenylketonuria (PKU). Phenylketonurics are not able to metabolize the amino acid phenylalanine and should not drink diet beverages or consume foods that contain aspartame. Newborn infants are tested for PKU shortly after delivery. You do not develop PKU from the consumption of aspartame.
We encourage everyone to talk with their doctor about what diet is most appropriate for them.