Sugar-sweetened beverages removed from UW Health

Move meant to promote healthy living
UW Health generic
File photo

UW Health has stopped selling sugar-sweetened beverages at University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics, American Family Children’s Hospital and UW Medical Foundation buildings. The sugar-sweetened beverages are being replaced with healthier alternatives.

The changes are being made at food service locations, vending machines, kiosks and catering at the hospital.

The removal of sugar-sweetened beverages is being done to promote healthy living and smart choices.

“We understand that nutritional needs may vary, but UW Health needs to promote healthy living and smart choices. We can no longer support something that we know has little to no nutritional value,” said Ron Sliwinski, CEO of UW Hospital and Clinics.

Regular soda, sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, sport and energy drinks, sweetened teas and coffees will no longer be sold. Sugar packets for use in coffee will still be available.

Diet soda and other beverages with artificial sweeteners will be available in vending machines and retail outlets.

UW Health will still allow patients, visitors and staff to bring their own sweetened beverages into the facility.

Meriter-Unity Point Health has not removed sugar-sweetened beverages from their cafeteria, but instituted an educational program two years ago that is seeing significant success.

The “Go, Slow, Whoa” program provides color codes on food and beverage packaging in the cafeteria. Foods that are low in calories, saturated fat and sodium are coded green for “go.” Items higher in calories, saturated fat and sodium are coded yellow for “slow,” and food high in saturated fats, calories and sodium are coded red for “whoa.”

In 2012, Meriter-Unity Point Health began a program to educate individuals visiting the cafeteria about “Go, Slow, Whoa.” They encourage the consumption of “Go” items with every meal. “Slow” items should be consumed in moderation, and “Whoa” foods and beverages should be consumed least often.

In 2012, prior to the launch of the “Go, Slow, Whoa” program, healthy foods and beverages made up only 16 percent of purchases at the cafeteria. In 2013, healthy food purchases rose to 42 percent and through the first quarter of 2014 that number reached 50 percent.