Could we get soda machines out of hospitals?

My earliest memories of going to a hospital somehow always comes with a memory of a bunch of healthcare workers smoking in the parking lot. It didn’t fit and probably that’s why it stayed in my memory forever.

Thanks for state laws and all, smoking is now mostly banned on hospital premises. Yet, what really angers me is presence of soda machines in hospital buildings combined with cafeteria that serves deep fried fast foods. What’s going on?

OK, so hospitals are large corporations, non-profit or not. They can’t just act on theories and popular opinions. But, that’s not the case with sugar. WHO recommends no more than 6 tsp of sugar per day for healthy people. If you are sick, depending on your condition, this could even be lower. Yet, when you are in post-operative care and drinking soda, you could end up with 30-40 spoons of sugar in a day. When a doctor asks a patient to avoid solids and drink plenty of fluids, what that essentially means is water, not Sprite, Coke or Fanta.

Thanks to capitalistic greed behind “healthcare”, in general, hospitals really aren’t directly interested in your health anyway. You get into problems, they have a process to fix you, but there is zero interest in preventing and educating you from getting there in the first place.

The sugar situation extends beyond the soda machines though. Let’s look at other “healthier” drinks that hospitals will suggest or even supply you with. Just one serving of Ensure’s Milk Chocolate Nutrition Shake has whopping 33 grams of carbs/sugar and only 9 grams of protein. Boost’s chocolate sensation has 41 grams of carbs/sugar and 10 gram of protein. If you look closely, that’s more sugar than a can of coke.

Let’s look at Gatorade, a very commonly recommended drinks to replenish your electrolytes after a dehydration. 32 ounce bottle of Gatorade has 56 grams of sugar, double of your daily maximum intake in just one drink. Hospitals routinely suggest that it is okay to choose this poison.

Most hospitals have plenty of sugary options to choose from. Candy and soda vending machines, sugary juices and desserts in cafetaria and even a piece of pie in the hospital food. I don’t have an exact number but I saw in one report that 20-30% of hospitals house fast food restaurants like McDonalds, KFC and Wendy’s in the building, and you know what they serve.

There are some signs of progress though. At least some of the hospitals like Geisinger Health systems in PA have taken initiatives and have removed all soda machines from their premises. In 2012, the Connecticut Mental Health Center began a “Sound Mind Sound Body” Initiative to improve the health of hospital employees and patients.

Someone needs to take notice and enact regulations to ban vending sugar in hospitals, just like they did for tobacco.



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