- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - Employees, patients and visitors will no longer be able to purchase sugar-sweetened beverages at a Madison health care system as it moves to encourage healthier choices.

UW Health says it will remove the sugary drinks, as well as the deep fryers at UW Hospital, from its facilities by the end of the year. It will soon join a healthy living effort that’s growing among hospitals nationwide.

“It’s consistent with the advice we pass out to families and ask them to follow,” Dr. David Allen, head of pediatric diabetes and endocrinology at UW Health.

Employees and visitors can still bring their own sugary drinks into UW Hospital, American Family Children’s Hospital and UW Health clinics. But soda, sweetened fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks, high-calorie sports drinks and sweetened teas and coffees will be removed from sales at the UW Health buildings.

“Typically those added sugars have empty calories with few, if any, essential nutrients,” said Amy Mihm, a hospital dietitian and member of the committee that developed the beverage policy. “We want to make a healthy choice an easy choice.”

The remaining drinks - water-based beverages, diet soda, milk, fruit juice and unsweetened tea - will be color-coded based on health contents. The healthiest options, like water, will be offered for the lowest price.

UW Hospital will opt to bake foods that are traditionally fried, such as french fries, cheese curds and onion rings, the Wisconsin State Journal (https://bit.ly/13oWvJy ) reported.

The hospital made about $1.8 million from beverage sales last year, according to spokeswoman Emily Kumlien. Beverages that will no longer be sold at the hospital brought in about $580,000, she said.

“We can’t control the choices people make, but we’re trying to set a good example,” Allen said.

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Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, https://www.madison.com/wsj

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