The president of the S.C. Medical Association is urging hospitals in the state to eliminate sugary drinks from their facilities.
Dr. Bruce Snyder sent a letter to administrators at hospitals in the state asking them to consider this step as part of the fight against obesity.
“Obesity is an epidemic in our state and its effects are so detrimental in our society that we must begin to come together and take the necessary steps to promote a more healthy lifestyle,” Snyder said. “Physicians and health care leaders are role models for South Carolina patients, and healthy, positive steps begin through our personal choices and leadership.”
The adult obesity rate in South Carolina has soared from 16.6 percent in 1995 to 31.6 percent in 2012. Obesity contributes to a myriad of chronic health problems, including diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure. Sugary drinks are one of many contributing factors, including poor diet in general and lack of exercise.
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Most hospitals already have programs aimed at healthy foods for their patients, guests and employees. The South Carolina Hospital Association’s Working Well Program focuses on nutrition, physical activity and tobacco use in member facilities. Twenty hospitals in the state have been awarded the golden apple for meeting Working Well nutrition standards.
But Working Well doesn’t call for a complete ban of sugary beverages, and most hospitals haven’t gone that far. Oconee Medical Center is at the front of the wave, having eliminated sugary beverages from cafeteria and vending machines.
“Our hospital’s mission is to help people feel better and to live more fully. We had to ask ourselves, ‘Is selling a drink with no nutritional value aligning with our mission?’” said Hunter Kome, chief operating officer at Oconee Medical.
Snyder said sugary beverages will not be provided to physicians and health care leaders visiting the SCMA office in Columbia.