Hospital provides healthier soda options

Oct. 13, 2012 at 10:27 AM
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BOSTON, Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Boston hospital officials say a new policy on beverages is helping create a healthier hospital, sets a good example and provides choices to patients and staff.

Healthy Hospital Workgroup co-chairwoman Shari Nethersole -- a physician at Children's Hospital, Boston, and instructor at the Harvard Medical School -- said in a survey by the Healthy Hospital Workgroup, employees agreed sugary drinks are a public health concern.

The survey found nearly 55 percent of hospital staff said they drank water regularly, while soda, sports drinks and energy drinks made up less than 10 percent of the reported consumption.

The hospital cafe introduced a system of labeling that put healthy beverages such as water and skim milk behind a green door. Drinks that are OK occasionally -- such as diet soda and 100-percent juice are behind a yellow door and drinks best avoided, such as soda and energy drinks, are behind a red door.

The idea is not to take away a consumer's choice, but to encourage them to think twice about what they're drinking, Nethersole said.

The hospital cafe introduced two new Hydration Stations, making water more easily available, at a reduced price and a free bottle after buying five.

"As a hospital, we're supposed to be comforting people, and if a can of Sprite is part of someone's way of coping, we need to be able to provide that," Nethersole said. "But as a hospital, we should be providing a good example, which is why we're working to give people the knowledge to help them make the right choices."

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