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Johns Hopkins Medicine Announces Healthy Beverage Initiative - 10/10/2014

Johns Hopkins Medicine Announces Healthy Beverage Initiative

Health system limits sales of sugar-sweetened drinks on campuses
Release Date: October 10, 2014
Tall glass of sugar

Johns Hopkins Medicine announces the start of its Healthy Beverage Initiative, a program designed to ensure that beverages containing relatively low levels of sugar are more readily available in the hospital cafeterias, vending machines and retail outlets on many Johns Hopkins Medicine campuses.

Changes took effect in September in cafeterias and other campus retail outlets. Self-serve beverage stations will offer sugar-free drink choices, and sugar-sweetened drinks will be available in containers of 12 ounces or less. The next stage — which includes limiting higher caloric drink options in vending machines — will occur in 2015.

“As part of our mission to improve the health of the community and the world, we must lead by example,” says Pamela Paulk, senior vice president for human resources for Johns Hopkins Medicine and the Johns Hopkins Health System. “Our goal is to provide the education and tools that will help our campus communities make healthier choices.”

To help identify healthy beverages, drinks are classified into a color-coded system based on the density of calories per ounce and volume of each container. Green choices are the best selections, with 0 to 25 calories per 12-ounce serving; yellow choices are better but should be limited, with 26 to 100 calories per 12-ounce serving; and red choices are considered the least healthy, with more than 100 calories per 12-ounce serving.

With the goal of modifying behavior, which can help combat obesity and related diseases, the initiative was developed by the Healthy@Hopkins committee and approved by the Johns Hopkins Wellness Steering Committee, a multidisciplinary team that includes faculty, staff members and subject matter experts from across Johns Hopkins Medicine and The Johns Hopkins University.

“We care about the health and well-being of everyone visiting and working in our hospitals and related buildings,” says Richard Safeer, M.D., medical director of employee health and wellness at Johns Hopkins HealthCare and facilitator of the wellness steering committee. “As health care providers, it is our responsibility to make healthy choices available to our staff, visitors and the surrounding community.”

The committee has been working for the past year on a number of projects to advance its goal to actively support a healthy workforce. This is also part of Johns Hopkins Medicine’s larger Strategic Plan, which includes investing in and rewarding its employees’ healthy lifestyles.

Johns Hopkins HealthCare and Johns Hopkins Home Care Group modified their drink options as part of an initial phase of this initiative. In this new phase, The Johns Hopkins Hospital, Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, Howard County General Hospital, Sibley Memorial Hospital and Suburban Hospital are adopting the plan.

On the Web:

  • More information on the Healthy Beverage Initiative

For the Media


Jania Matthews
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Kim Hoppe
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