Mayor Bloomberg of New York City pointed us in the proper direction by banning the sale of large sugary drinks (see: Health Panel Approves Restriction on Sale of Large Sugary Drinks). Hospitals need to join this healthy food movement by banning the sale of sugary drinks from their vending machines, cafeteria, and snack bars. This idea occurred to me after reading the following note in HIStalk (see: News 11/7/12):
Children’s Mercy of Kansas City, MO will stop the sale of all sugar-containing drinks on January 1, including sugar-loaded faux healthy fruit juices. The hospital cafeteria emphasizes healthier food choices, encourages purchase of fruits and vegetables, and plans to trash their deep fryers by 2015....This is an admirable step in trying to lead by example. Outsourced food service departments of hospitals are big-time nutritional offenders in serving whatever is easy and cheap, although in their defense they’re selling what people unfortunately want. It would be interesting to see how many overweight people suck down sugary drinks regularly, which are surely the least-satisfying calories you can take in. Put your finger a third of the way up the side of a soda can – that’s how far the 140 calories’ worth of sugar would pile up if you removed the colored water.
Here's an excerpt from the article about Children's Mercy Hospital:
Children’s Mercy’s administrators say the hospital is taking the lead in the Kansas City area by being the first to eliminate all sugary drinks there, starting in January. That means no soda or sugar-filled juices in the vending machines, the cafeteria or the gift shop. “That doesn’t mean hospital employees or patients’ visitors can’t bring their own sugary drink in,” said [a hospital executive], “but they won’t be sold anywhere in our hospital.” The effort is part of a nine-point program set nationally by Partnership for a Healthier America, a nonpartisan, nonprofit initiative based in the nation’s capital that focuses on eliminating childhood obesity in the country
For me, this is an extension of the admirable widespread hospital initiatives to ban smoking on hospital facilities and grounds. Will this have an effect on the prevalence of obesity? Probably not. Will it cause a dip in the financial bottom line for hospitals? Perhaps, to a minor degree. Will it cause patients, their families, and hospital employees to think about the empty liquid calories in soft drinks the next time that they swig a can. Yes. If our healthcare delivery institutions are unwilling to take a stand on this issue, who will?