Geisinger Health eliminates all sugar-sweetened beverages from campuses

In its continued efforts to promote health and wellness, Geisinger will eliminate sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) from all campuses effective Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

“Sugar-sweetened beverages are the leading source of added sugar in the American diet, and play a significant role in the country’s obesity epidemic,” said Andrea Feinberg, medical director of Geisinger’s Health and Wellness Program. “These drinks also can increase one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and gout. By eliminating SSBs, we can create wellness opportunities and improve the overall health of our communities.”

Beginning in the New Year, Geisinger food service locations will no longer sell SSBs. These items include regular soda, sugar-added fruit juices, sugar-sweetened teas, sugar-added energy drinks, bottled sugar-added iced coffee drinks and flavored milks (chocolate and strawberry).

Visitors to Geisinger locations will still have options as the following items will be available: diet and zero calorie soda, 100 percent fruit juice, diet and unsweetened teas, zero calorie Powerade and Vitaminwater, regular and decaffeinated coffee, all types of unflavored milk, and water, including zero calorie flavored waters.

“As a healthcare organization, our goal is to provide the best care to our patients, employees, members and visitors,” said Bruce Thomas, vice president of Geisinger’s Guest Services. “Geisinger serves more than 6 million meals a year. By offering healthy food and beverage options, we have a tremendous opportunity to positively impact the health and wellbeing of our entire community.”

The World Health Organization recommends individuals consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar a day; on average, Americans consume about 20 teaspoons per day. One 12-ounce can of regular soda contains nearly 10 teaspoons of sugar.

The elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages within the health system is part of an ongoing commitment by Geisinger to provide resources and tools for healthier living that started a decade ago. In 2008, Geisinger began its Healthy Selections program and has continued to make changes to its menu by eliminating trans fats and fried food, limiting sodium and serving fresh, local produce.

“Geisinger is all about caring for patients, employees and visitors,” Feinberg said. “Good food is medicine and offering healthy food and beverage choices is another way to provide that care.”

SOURCE: Geisinger Health