The Annals of Cardiology No.40 | Rigging Your Life for Health
If you’re like my respondents, you probably didn’t identify your employer as a crucial influence on your health. But your answer may have been different if you lived in California and worked at, say, the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Health Science Complex. Why? Because in 2015, the UCSF administration banned all sugary drinks sold in vending machines at their facility. The announcement came from the top: No more sodas, no sugary sports drinks, nothing with added sugar. It would be akin to the staff at KEMH’s Pink café telling you, “No, we don’t have Coke, Pepsi, Tradewinds, Ribena, or vitamin drinks. Just water, take it, or leave it.” (All those sugary toxins are, by the way, still on offer at our local hospital). The ban at the University of California was only on sales and did not prevent employees from buying sugary drinks off-site and bringing them to work.
“If we truly want to reverse obesity and its associated diseases, we must stop selling sickness in the hospital grounds.”
Why did the UCSF take such drastic measures? The answer is simple – sugary drinks aren’t healthy. I think, by now, everyone knows this. Studies link high sugar intake to diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and premature death. And amongst the culprits, sugary beverages have been identified as the most significant contributor of added sugar calories to the diet. Yet, whether for reasons of willpower, defiance, or a who-cares attitude, lots of Bermudians still guzzle sugar. Even some athletes – people you think might know better – devour Gatorade (13.6 grams of sugar/8 oz) and other sports drinks like Monster juice (27 grams of sugar/8 oz), thinking they’re doing themselves a favor.
On October 28, 2019, the results of a study examining the health effects of the soda ban were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. For 10 months during the ban, 214 UCSF employees who identified themselves as frequent sugary beverage drinkers reduced their consumption by half – from 35 fluid ounces (over a liter)/day to “only” 17 fluid ounces (about half a liter)/day. In addition, half the study participants were invited to partake in a motivational program to curb their sugar intake. A straightforward tool the program used was to demonstrate how much sugar participants drank by showing them sugar cubes per serving. Those who participated in the motivational program had a 3-fold reduction in sugary beverage consumption.
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