Rethink Your Drink trial successful: 63% support removal of sugary drinks

Coca Cola Amatil’s Kristen Geromboux, Zoukis’ Tamas Olah, Westmead Hospital corporate services director Mathivanan Sakthivel, WSLHD Population Health’s Rachael Graham and Westmead Hospital general manager Andrew Newton.

Westmead Hospital’s Rethink Your Drink trial has finished – and it’s been hailed a success by all involved.

The three-month trial – the first of its kind for a major Sydney hospital – aimed to cut down the consumption of sugary drinks by removing them from vending machines and retail outlets.

During the trial, Westmead Hospital management and Western Sydney Local Health District’s Population Health team received a significant amount of feedback from staff, patients and visitors, keen to share their thoughts on the move.

The Population Health team also conducted a survey on the trial, gathering responses from 782 staff members and visitors.

Of those surveyed:

  • 63% supported the removal of sugary drinks from sale in the hospital
  • 92% agreed the hospital had a role in promoting healthier choices
  • 44% increased their water consumption during the trial
  • 10% cut back on sugary drink consumption

The Population Health team also received nearly 100 emails from staff.

Of those who emailed, 91 per cent gave positive feedback on the trial, with many keen to become sugar-free ambassadors and proud to work for an organisation promoting healthy living.

Hospital management and the Population Health team, along with major food provider Zouki and Coca Cola Amatil (who fill the vending machines), worked together closely on the initiative.

WSLHD Centre for Population Health deputy director Christine Newman said the LHD was proud to have led by example.

“As a health organisation, we felt it was our role to take a stand against sugar; the Westmead Hospital trial was really the first step in cutting down sugar consumption across the district,” she said.

“The over consumption of sugar is contributing to the bulge in western Sydney; we have an obesity crisis here – nearly half the adults and about 25 per cent of children are overweight or obese.”

Following the success of the trial, Westmead Hospital is committed to removing sugary drinks permanently and the current arrangements will continue in the interim while WSLHD works to roll out this initiative across all the facilities.

NSW Health recently announced its new Healthy Food & Drink in NSW Health facilities framework last week.

The framework includes a recommendation that sugary drinks not be sold at hospitals across the state and that “everyday” foods make up 75 per cent or more of the total food and drink offering in hospitals.

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