Latest News

Grand Itasca is Transforming the Beverage Environment

2/13/2013

Grand Rapids MN - In an effort to improve the health and well-being of its employees, patients and the community, Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital is changing its policy on the types of beverages served and sold in its facilities.  Beginning on March 2, 2013, all sugar-sweetened beverages will be removed from the beverage choices available in the cafeteria, coffee bar and vending areas.

 

Grand Rapids MN - In an effort to improve the health and well-being of its employees, patients and the community, Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital is changing its policy on the types of beverages served and sold in its facilities.  Beginning on March 2, 2013, all sugar-sweetened beverages will be removed from the beverage choices available in the cafeteria, coffee bar and vending areas.  This move makes Grand Itasca one of only a few health care facilities in the state who will not offer sugar-sweetened beverages. It also supports Grand Itasca’s focus on the community’s health and wellbeing as a participating organization in the Healthy Communities Partnership program, a three-year wellness initiative funded by Allina Health and the George Family Foundation focused on transforming the health of 13 communities in Minnesota. 

“The evidence that sugar-sweetened beverages are hazardous to our health is overwhelming, and it shows that they contribute not only to obesity and diabetes, but to an increased risk for heart disease as well," says Dr. Lisa Owens, general surgeon at Grand Itasca. “While we acknowledge that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is only one of many factors contributing to obesity, reducing consumption is a fairly easy way to begin reversing the trend. As a health care leader in our community, we feel obligated to make the healthy choice the easy choice.”

Obesity and related chronic diseases are an epidemic in Itasca County and our nation. The 2010 Minnesota Student Survey showed that 15% of 9th grade students are overweight and 11% are obese.  Additional statistics collected in the 2010 Northeastern Minnesota Bridge to Health Survey indicate that over 30% of the adults in Itasca County are considered overweight and 17% are obese. 

The elimination of sugar-sweetened beverages in health care facilities and other workplaces is becoming a national trend. St. Luke’s Hospital in Duluth became the first hospital in Minnesota to make the move, as they started phasing out sugar-sweetened beverages last fall. “Because sugar-sweetened beverages are a significant source of empty calories and have little to no nutritional value, it makes sense to eliminate the distribution of these beverages within our facility,” said Valarie Plackner, registered dietitian at Grand Itasca. 

Grand Itasca defines sugar-sweetened beverages as those to which sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup or sucrose, have been added. They include regular soft drinks, fruit drinks that are not 100% juice, sports drinks, tea and coffee drinks, and energy drinks. Grand Itasca will continue to serve and sell water, low-fat or non-fat milk, unsweetened coffee and teas, 100% fruit and vegetable juices, and diet soft drinks. Additionally, some sugar-sweetened beverages will be available for patients as directed by their health care provider.

“Our goal is to lead by example and show our community and area residents that we are committed to creating an environment where healthy nutrition and lifestyle choices are a priority”, says Plackner.  “Grand Itasca is committed to providing quality health care, and certainly prevention is part of that equation.”

Grand Itasca Clinic and Hospital is a non-profit, integrated delivery system that employs over 600 people. The integrated clinic and hospital, described as a “modern expression of hospitality and healing” is home to over 60 physicians and other care providers including specialists in Family Medicine, Internal Medicine, Ob/Gyn, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, Oncology, ENT, Urology, General and Reconstructive Surgery and Podiatry.

###