No sugary drinks to be sold at U-M health system

No sugary drinks to be sold at U-M health system

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- The University of Michigan Health System and the medical school soon will stop selling sugary drinks in their cafeterias and vending machines.

The policy is set to take effect in mid-November and applies to sodas, sweetened coffees, sports drinks, fruit-flavored drinks, energy drinks and sweetened tea.

Drinks that will remain on shelves include diet soda, 100 percent fruit juice, white and chocolate milk, milkshakes, smoothies, flavored waters, unsweetened tea, coffee and vegetable juice.

Staff, visitors and patients still can bring in their own drinks.

"It is part of our effort to model healthy behaviors," health system spokesman Pete Barkey told The Detroit News for a story Monday.  

Barkey said officials were sensitive to concerns that the new policy would hamper hospital visitors who may want a comforting drink at a traumatic time. But, he said, the complications from illnesses such as obesity and diabetes are too severe not to act.

The U-M Health System and medical school join a number of entities across the country that are doing the same.

Toledo, Ohio-based ProMedica hospitals stopped selling sugary drinks earlier this year, saying that evidence was growing that showed the drinks were "hazardous to our health." New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has received national attention for trying to bar eateries from selling sugary drinks in big sizes.

Registered dietitian Gail Posner said she applauds the U-M Health System's decision and hopes it inspires people to make healthier choices.

"By not selling it, they are taking a stand and saying there are other options," said Posner, who works with Healthy Ways Nutrition Counseling in West Bloomfield Township.

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