ST. GEORGE — Come March, visitors to hospital facilities in Southern Utah will not find sugary drinks, candy and the like available for purchase as Intermountain Healthcare aims to offer choices that more closely mirror its mission of helping people live the healthiest lives possible.
Cafeterias, gift shops, vending machines and pharmacies at Intermountain facilities will be removing food choices that contain added sugar, salt and saturated fats, including sugary drinks, candy and “less healthy snacks,” its release said. Starting March 1, these venues will offer healthier food choices based on nutrition research and dietary guidelines.
Most people don’t realize that added sugar is used in numerous foods, the release said, foods such as breakfast cereals, salad dressings, pasta sauces and crackers.
“We are trying to make people aware of where these added sugars are and how to best avoid them,” said Robin Aufdenkampe, director of Intermountain’s Food and Nutrition Services. “The two biggest ways to reduce added sugars is with sodas and candy.”
While the organization won’t be selling sugary items at its facilities, people can still choose to bring their own (sweet treats) into any of its facilities, the news release states.
For nearly a decade, Intermountain’s LiVe Well message has been about eating healthier and being active. In fact, Intermountain began offering “healthy plates” at its cafeterias in 2014, selling nearly 150,000 healthy plates last year alone.
Healthy eating environments with good nutrition play a vital role in health. Excessive sugar consumption can contribute to obesity and a host of adverse health conditions.
An alarming number of people are living with prediabetes, whose blood glucose is elevated, with approximately 114,000 people in Utah and Southern Idaho affected, Intermountain Healthcare officials said in the release. Around 90 percent don’t know they have prediabetes, which can lead to Type 2 diabetes and increased heart attack and stroke risks.
With this change, Intermountain joins more than 30 health systems nationwide, such as Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, that have adopted similar policies.
About Intermountain Healthcare
Intermountain Healthcare is a not-for-profit health system based in Salt Lake City. Recognized for its excellent clinical care and low costs, Intermountain strives to help people live the healthiest lives possible.
More information about Intermountain’s LiVe Well program is available on its webpage here.