A 10‑Month Ban on Selling Sugary Drinks at a Workplace Led to Reduced Fat, Cholesterol in Employees


Nov 6, 2019


The study's health results point to how much our eating patterns depend on cheap, unhealthy, but convenient options.

A 10-month study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found an almost 50% reduction in the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages, less belly fat, cholesterol, and insulin resistance among university employees after the institution stopped selling sugary beverages on campus. The group of researchers involved studied people working at the University of California, San Francisco, (UCSF) before and after the institution stopped selling sugary beverages like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas on campus. \ like sodas, sports drinks, and sweetened teas

“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,” Elissa Epel, Ph.D. lead author, and director of the UCSF Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center, said in a statement

Food items usually sold at the workplace are pre-packaged and often high in sodium and refined grains — both harmful for health. The Swaddle has previously reported that Indian packaged foods are particularly unnutritious and fat-dense. Another report by The Swaddle has also stated that daily consumption of sodas or soft drinks can lead to a 17% increase in mortality from a variety of causes.

Employees might eat unhealthily at work for a variety of reasons, including a lack of available healthy options, peer pressure, and the need for an energy boost. However, what’s problematic is that these unhealthy eating habits replicated themselves when people left work, too, according to other research.

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The researchers studied more than 200 UCSF employees who worked in an environment with no readily available sweetened beverages, but could drink them at home and could bring these beverages to work from home. The study subjects described themselves as frequent consumers of sugary beverages, drinking more than 12 ounces (around 350 milliliters) per day. On average, participants of the study drank an average of 35 ounces (around 1 liter) per day of such drinks.

By the end of 10 months, the average daily consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages dropped to 18 ounces (around 530 milliliters). Participants lost weight and an average of almost 1 inch (2.1 centimeters) from their individual waistlines.

“This is a group of people who were at high risk for early onset of metabolic diseases and probably cancers as well,” said Epel. “They were drinking at least one sugared beverage a day. The participants who were overweight or obese already had very high levels of insulin resistance, in the prediabetic range, and the lean participants were also insulin resistant. Regardless of whether they were overweight or lean, most of the participants in the study tended to lose belly fat when they were offered a healthier beverage selection at work.”

While scientists do believe that proximity to sugary beverages increases one’s chances of consuming them excessively, the onus still remains on the employee who controls their own diet. Though scientists recommend that workplaces can stock flavored waters, sparkling water, and unsweetened coffees and teas instead of sugary drinks, this will probably happen only at a few select workplaces that care enough to carry out such a change. Individual consumption practices that involve substituting soda with water and unsweetened beverages, and overall moderation might also help bring about the same health results as those of the study’s participants.


Written By Aditi Murti

Aditi Murti is a culture writer at The Swaddle. Previously, she worked as a freelance journalist focused on gender and cities. Find her on social media @aditimurti.


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