The Healthy Beverages Initiative supports hospitals in transforming their beverage environments. Key strategies of the initiative include creating healthy vending criteria, reducing advertising of unhealthy beverages, increasing access and signage for public drinking water on hospital grounds, and shifting pricing structures to encourage healthy beverage choices.
The reasons for committing to a Healthy Beverage environment are profound and compelling. Obesity prevalence in the U.S. is rapidly increasing. Health care institutions throughout the country recognize the urgent need to reduce rates of obesity and chronic illness as well as their associated health care costs. It is well established that sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) contribute to the increased prevalence of obesity and associated chronic diseases that go along with weight gain. The production, consumption, and waste associated with sugar-sweetened and bottled beverages have numerous negative environmental consequences that are often overlooked. Alternatively, in the U.S., tap water has been proven to be just as safe, or safer, than its bottled version. By supporting and promoting publicly-owned water infrastructure and reducing access to unhealthy beverages, the health care community can assist in creating a food environment that supports health for both the community it serves and the environment in general.
We challenge hospitals to commit to increasing the percentage of healthy beverage purchases. Key benchmarks are increasing healthy beverage purchases by 20 percent over a baseline year, or striving for 80 percent of total healthy beverage purchases for use throughout the hospital (patient, retail, vending, and catering).