Health system continues commitment to healthy food and beverage options
“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 Dr. 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.”
One of the nation’s most innovative health services organizations, Geisinger serves more than 1.5 million patients in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The system includes 13 hospital campuses, a nearly 600,000-member health plan, two research centers and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. Geisinger is known for its focus on caring and innovative programs including the ProvenCare® best-practice approach to maximize quality, safety and value; ProvenHealth Navigator® advanced medical home; Springboard Health® population health program to improve the health of an entire community; ProvenExperience™ to provide refunds to patients unhappy with their care experience; and Geisinger’s MyCode® Community Health Initiative, the largest healthcare system-based precision health project in the world. With more than 215,000 volunteer participants enrolled, MyCode is conducting extensive research and returning medically actionable results to participants. A physician-led organization, with approximately 32,000 employees and more than 1,800 employed physicians, Geisinger leverages an estimated $12.7 billion positive annual impact on the Pennsylvania and New Jersey economies. Repeatedly recognized nationally for integration, quality and service, Geisinger has a long-standing commitment to patient care, medical education, research and community service. For more information, visit www.geisinger.org, or connect with us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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