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NYC Health + Hospitals Eliminates All Sugary Drinks From Its Facilities System-Wide

Building on previous initiatives that removed sugary drinks from patient meals and vending machines, public health system now removes sugary drinks from all points of sale

Healthy Beverage Initiative furthers NYC Health + Hospitals' mission of empowering patients and staff to live their healthiest lives

Mar 09, 2020

New York, NY

NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the launch of a Healthy Beverage Initiative that eliminates the sale of sugary drinks throughout the public health care system. Through this initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals will no longer sell any beverage with an added caloric sweetener that has more than 25 calories per eight ounces, including regular (non-diet) soda, sports drinks, and bottled sweetened tea and coffees. Employees, patients, and visitors will still be able to bring in their own drinks, but they will only be able to purchase healthier beverages, including water, seltzer, unsweetened milk, and 100 percent fruit juices. This initiative is a component of NYC Health + Hospitals’ comprehensive strategic plan to address obesity across the entire system and builds on the public health system’s previous efforts to improve the food environment within its facilities. Sugary drinks were eliminated from inpatient meals in 2008 and from vending machines in 2017.

“NYC Health + Hospitals is taking a powerful step to protect their patients, visitors, and staff from the harms of sugary drinks,” said NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “Sugary drinks can lead to type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic conditions. The spaces where we purchase food shape our choices, and this change will promote the health of the thousands of New Yorkers NYC Health + Hospitals serves every year.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals has a critical investment in the health of all of the communities and populations we serve,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “By removing sugary drinks from all of our facilities, we are taking a bold stance and sending our communities a message of how seriously we take their health and wellbeing.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals has a proven track record of putting the health of New Yorkers first, and we can no longer ignore the overwhelming evidence that links the consumption of sugary drinks to chronic diseases, including diabetes and heart disease,” said NYC Health + Hospitals Vice President and Chief Population Health Officer Dave Chokshi, MD, MSc, FACP. “The Healthy Beverage Initiative is yet another important step we are taking to support our patients and staff in living healthier lives.”

“NYC Health + Hospitals has taken another step forward to create a model food environment for its patients, staff, and the broader community,” said Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Policy Kate MacKenzie. Eliminating the availability of sugary beverages in NYC Health + Hospitals facilities system-wide is a bold step that will help to reduce the consumption of these drinks and help prevent certain chronic diseases.”

“Sugary beverages are a major risk factor for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease,” said Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried. “They certainly don’t belong in hospitals and other health care settings. I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals’ decision to remove them from their facilities.”

With the launch of the Healthy Beverage Initiative, NYC Health + Hospitals joins a group of nearly 40 hospitals and health systems across the country that have already eliminated the sale of sugary drinks in their facilities. The American Academy of Pediatrics and American Heart Association have recommended that hospitals eliminate the sale of sugary drinks to improve the health of their communities and increase awareness about the health risks of sugary drinks.

“Research continues to support the reality that consuming too many sugary drinks is dangerous for your heart,” said Vice President of Health for the American Heart Association in New York City Robin Vitale. “We applaud this move by NYC Health + Hospitals to promote healthier beverage options for our community. Reducing consumption of sodas, sports drinks and fruit-flavored drinks will provide a huge benefit to our heart-health.”

“It is imperative that our health care system takes this kind of action to help address the obesity epidemic and demonstrate to the public that they are partners in helping New Yorkers make healthy choices,” said Chair of the Department of Pediatrics at NYC Health + Hospitals/Coney Island and Chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics (NYS AAP) Warren Seigel, MD, FAAP.

Last year, NYC Health + Hospitals’ Office of Population Health launched a strategic plan to address obesity, the system’s first effort to specifically address obesity by implementing standardized, system-wide approaches to reduce overweight and obesity among patients. Being overweight and obesity are common among NYC Health + Hospital’s primary care patient population. In 2019, more than one third (35 percent) of adult patients were overweight and another one third (37 percent) were obese; 16 percent of pediatric patients were overweight and another one quarter (27 percent) were obese. Excess weight is a risk factor for and can complicate diabetes and hypertension.

Sugary drinks are the single largest source of added sugar in Americans’ diets. Numerous studies have shown that people who regularly consume just one sugary drink per day have a higher risk of gaining weight and developing and dying from chronic diseases than people who rarely consume such drinks, including a 26 percent greater risk of developing diabetes, a 20 percent greater risk of developing heart disease, and a 19 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease.