Chronic diseases are a serious problem for District of Columbia residents and health care providers. With residents’ rates of obesity and diabetes at a critical high (Obesity: Adults 22%, High School Students 15%, Diabetes: 8.5%, At-Risk for Diabetes 6.55%), the linkage between sugar consumption and chronic disease can no longer be ignored. Reduction and elimination of sugary beverages, as well as public education on healthier dietary options, is an imperative to moving the needle on a healthier community.
To that end, DCHA has been working with the DC Department of Health (DOH) on an initiative to reduce the availability of sugary beverages, and promote healthier options within the District’s hospitals. Through the program, DCHA will be asking the District’s hospitals to commit to:
- Making healthy changes to vending machines, cafeterias, meetings, events, and other sources of sugary beverages in the workplace.
- Identifying and utilizing vendors, caterers, and other food providers that offer healthier beverage choices.
- Having leadership support and model reduction of sugary beverages in the facility.
- Educating employees about health consumption and promotion of healthier alternatives.
- Reducing, and ultimately eliminating, sugar-sweetened beverages.
Sibley Memorial Hospital, part of Johns Hopkins Medicine, was the first hospital in the District to create and implement a reduction and elimination program, but several others are not far behind. For those interested and able, DCHA plans to assist our members on implementation of sugary beverage reduction programs at their facility. In doing our part, the Association has also eliminated the availability of sugary-beverages to staff and meeting attendees in our office.
DCHA will be updating our website to include information on the sugary beverage healthier hospitals initiative, including tools and resources for your facility.
You can follow DCHA’s Kick the Can campaign by searching #RethinkYourDrink on twitter.