The University of Pennsylvania Health System has started eliminating sugar-sweetened beverages, such as regular soda, fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, and sweetened milk, tea, and coffee drinks, from its facilities. The goal: helping employees and visitors to fight obesity, type 2 diabetes, and other health problems, the Philadelphia region’s largest health system said this week.

But it won’t happen all at once. The elimination process is expected to take several months.

Though the city of Philadelphia’s sweetened drinks tax lumps in diet sodas with regularly sweetened beverages, Penn’s policy won’t wall off items like Diet Coke. Penn said it will continue to provide diet beverages,  unsweetened beverages, 100 percent fruit juice, milk, and flavored water.

And there is a loophole: Third-party vendors, such as Starbucks and Freshii, will be allowed to continue serving sweetened beverages, Penn said.

Penn Medicine CEO Ralph Muller says educating patients on food and beverage choices should be reflected by what facilities serve.

Multiple hospitals in the system are altering food menus to follow the Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s “Good Food, Healthy Hospitals” initiative.

The Associated Press contributed reporting. 




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