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Study links halting soda sales in workplaces to improved employee health

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San Francisco — Some call it “soda.” Others prefer “pop.” In the South, it’s largely “Coke.” Whatever your name for sugary soft drinks, simply saying “no” to selling them in workplaces may help employees experience positive health outcomes such as weight loss and reduced cholesterol, researchers from the University of California, San Francisco say.

For the study, the researchers sampled 214 UCSF employees who said they consumed at least 12 ounces of soda or other sugary beverages a day. Before the university enacted a campuswide ban on the sales of such beverages, the participants drank an average of 35 ounces of these drinks a day. Ten months later, with the ban in effect, the employees’ average daily consumption fell 48.6% to 18 ounces. The participants – half of whom were randomly selected to receive health coaching intended to help them cut back – still were allowed to buy sugary drinks elsewhere or bring them from home.

Over the course of the study, nearly 70% of the employees saw their waistlines recede, with all the participants losing an average of 0.8 inches. Additionally, workers who reduced their intake of soda and sugary beverages tended to have lower total cholesterol and improved insulin resistance.

 

“This shows us that simply ending sales of sugary drinks in the workplace can have a meaningful effect on improving health in less than one year,” Elissa Epel, lead study author and UCSF professor of psychiatry, said in an Oct. 28 press release. “There is a well-known pathway from soda to disease. High sugar intake leads to abdominal fat and insulin resistance, which are known risk factors for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and even dementia. Recent studies have also linked sugar intake to early mortality.”

The study was published online Oct. 28 in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

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