Letter: Yank sugary drinks from schools, health facilities

Graphic by Lori Deaton

As a citizen of Asheville concerned for the health of all the patients, visitors, employees and staff of Mission Hospital; the students, visitors, faculty and staff of all public and private schools of Buncombe County; and the residents and staff at stand-alone medical and nursing home facilities in the area, I am calling for a complete removal of sugary beverages from all campuses throughout Asheville and Buncombe County. This includes the kitchens, vending machines and gift shops, and includes drinks such as sodas, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Health concerns in the news have been exposing one after another link to the increase of sugary beverages in the diet, adding to the obesity pandemic worldwide, not to mention the astronomical rise in diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases.

Having flavored seltzer water beverages on clear-liquid diet trays is a perfect alternative. They have a slight fruity flavor with no sugar and none of the aftertaste of diet sodas. As for diet sodas, the science is also panning out that they provide an insulin spike, adding to insulin resistance, furthering the aforementioned health problems.

Sugary beverages should not be served, even by concession stands, at school sporting events. Again, a general ban from the campuses.

I know this is extreme, but I am looking toward the health and the future of our children and basic common sense for medical facilities.

There is a growing call for a sugar tax in communities, and many countries have even instituted them, such as the U.K., France and Denmark, among others. Many cities in America have already instituted sugar taxes to start to combat the problem of sugar consumption, including Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia and Seattle, just to name a few. I think Asheville should be the first city in the Southeast, before Atlanta or Charlotte, to institute one!

As it is, I’m calling to start at home by removing sugary beverages from medical and educational facilities across Buncombe County.

— Rebecca Bellospirito, RN


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4 thoughts on “Letter: Yank sugary drinks from schools, health facilities

  1. Mike

    Don’t like ’em? Think they are unhealthy? Fine, don’t drink them. But don’t tell me I can’t. I’ve been drinking an average of 3 diet soda’s per day for 50 year now. That is almost 55,000 cans/bottles. I started with Diet Rite and switched to Tab when I was in grad school. Now I drink a mix of Diet Pepsi, Diet Coke, Diet Orange Crush, Diet Dr. Pepper, and Diet Root Beer. I’m 72 now and weigh the same as I did when I graduated from Lee Edwards in ’64, During my yearly health screenings I always have excellent scores on cholesterol, kidney function, liver function with no indication of impaired pancreatic function or diabetes.

  2. jason

    Mind your own business. If you don’t like sugary drinks, then don’t drink them.

  3. AmeriBev

    Federal data shows obesity rates are on the rise while soda consumption is at 30-year lows. Recent CDC data states that added sugars from soft drinks in the American diet are down 39 percent since 2000. Simply put, obesity rates have continued to go up as calories and sugars from beverages have been going down.

    America’s beverage companies agree that it’s important for people to be mindful of their sugar intake. There are many beverage choices with zero sugar or less sugar, and some in smaller portion sizes. We’re working with community leaders and stakeholders in places with some of the highest rates of obesity in the country and providing more choices with less sugar or no sugar at all. Our companies are placing clear calorie labels on the front of all of our products, as well as providing the encouragement to cut back on sugar and calories from beverages with calorie awareness signs on company-controlled vending machines, fountain equipment and retail coolers nationwide.

    Additionally, through our School Beverage Guidelines, we voluntarily removed full-calorie sodas from schools, replacing them with a range of lower-calorie and smaller-portion options.

    Initiatives like these are what will drive true and lasting change, not taxes. Such measures have not worked to reduce public health challenges. In Mexico, obesity rates have risen and in Berkeley people shifted to high-fat, high-calorie non-taxed beverages. Moreover, people shop outside the taxed area, hurting the local economy and jobs.

    Learn more here about how America’s beverage companies are providing families with the information, encouragement and choices to support balanced lifestyles: BalanceUS.org.

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