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Local Hospital Trying To Curb Temptation Of Sugary Treats

The selection of food and drink served at Logan Regional Hospital is pretty typical—entrees, chips, yogurt, granola, chocolate milk and juice. But some things are gradually disappearing.

Lance Frazier, communication specialist for Intermountain Healthcare in Logan Utah, said visitors are welcome to bring their own sugary treats into the hospital but they will no longer be sold here.

“We’re in the process right now of removing all the sugared drinks and candy from our vending machines, from the cafeteria, from the pharmacies," Frazier said. "Everyplace that those were sold here in the hospital."

He said despite a few complaints, staff members have been accepting for the most part.

While some visitors think the new policy is too extreme, Don Barton, a regular visitor to the hospital, thinks if falls short.

“The thing that kind of amazes me…is they’ve taken all the sugar drinks out, which we don’t drink anyway," he said. "[Yet] every Wednesday they produce those sugar bomb sweet rolls and pecan rolls that are beyond unhealthy.”

The research is not new. In fact Intermountain’s very own Live Well program has been touting healthy eating, including low sugar, for nearly a decade.

So, why now? Frazier said reasons for the change include a switch in leadership and emulating other hospitals.

“Our new CEO, Mark Harrison is definitely a very active person who participates in triathlons [and] lives the lifestyle that we’re trying to encourage," Frazier said. "And we’re not the only hospital to have done this. The Mayo Clinic, Kaiser Permanente, [and] some of the large providers across the country have also made this step.”

But Frazier said the most important reason is health. And the Intermountain coverage area of Utah and Southern Idaho include 100,000 people who are potentially sick.

“[They] have diabetes or prediabetes and many of them don’t even know that. Of course sugar, and these added sugars are a major component in developing that disease,” he said.

Robin Aufdencamp, director of food and nutrition services for Intermountain, echoed the same concern for diabetes prevention.

“Prediabetes is when you have conditions that are leading you towards acquiring or having diabetes—type 2 diabetes," she said. "So, a person could be a little bit overweight, their blood sugars are sometimes out of control, or a little bit high. And all of the indications are pointing towards [a high likelihood of acquiring] type 2 diabetes if they keep going on the same track they are on.”

Aufdencamp said, once a patient is diagnosed with diabetes, the change in lifestyle can be difficult. Some people are in denial, while other people are excited to change.

“Some people in that situation want to jump onboard and say ok, tell me what I need to do," she said. "I’m ready to change because I don’t want to have all of these complications later on and I want to live a long and healthy life and be active.”

What’s the best medicine? Aufdencamp said, monitor your sugar intake. Follow advice from the American Heart Association. Consume no more than six teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and children, nine teaspoons for men.

One 16-ounce bottle of soda, by the way, has about ten teaspoons of sugar.