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St. Luke's becomes first hospital in state to follow NYC's lead, ban sale of sugary drinks

First sodas, then chocolate chip cookies?
First sodas, then chocolate chip cookies?

A month after New York City approved a ban on sugary drinks larger than 16 ounces, Duluth-based St. Luke's Hospital has taken the next step and is banning the sale of all sugary drinks on hospital premises.

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"What we're learning from data that's out there is that sugar-sweetened beverages are a significant contributor to obesity," Mark Branovan, director of hospitality at St. Luke's, told the Duluth News Tribune. He added that guests and employees can still bring in their own Cokes and Pepsis if they like.

Jamie Harvin of the Duluth-based Institute for a Sustainable Future applauded St. Luke's move, telling the Tribune, "Tackling the obesity crisis is not the sole responsibility of our hospitals, but if our hospitals can't lead, who will?"

But where does the slippery slope end? With sugary drinks no longer for sale on hospital premises, will all sweet treats soon be taboo?

Regarding the question of whether a ban on all "unhealthy" foods is next, Branovan told the Tribune that St. Luke's isn't "that radical."

St. Luke's aside, obesity experts such as the Mayo Clinic's Donald Hensrud argue that soda, as opposed to foods like cookies and chocolatey snack bars, presents a unique public health problem.

"Regular soda is a triple whammy, so to speak," Hensrud told the Rochester Post Bulletin. "It's extra calories, there's no nutritional value at all, and it may displace other foods that are healthier."

-- Hat-tip: BringMeTheNews --


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