Can Employers Help Reduce Soda Consumption?

One benefit of workplace wellness programs is their potential to change personal health behavior even outside of the workplace. Could one area be to reduce the amount of sugar soda people drink?

The New York Times reports that last year the University of California, San Francisco “removed sugar-sweetened beverages from every store, food truck and vending machine on its campus. Even popular fast-food chains on the campus, like Subway and Panda Express, have stopped selling Sprite, Coca-Cola and their sugary brethren at the university’s request.”

One benefit was to reduce the amount of sugar soda employees consumed. But given this is a research university, UCSF also recognized an opportunity: “With sugary sodas now a rare sight on campus, the university found that it had the perfect conditions to study what happens when people who were drinking large amounts of sugar during their workday suddenly stop.”

The results haven’t been published, but the NYT reports on initial results.

“Since the policy went into effect a year ago, the university says it has recorded a significant drop in soft drink consumption among its employees, particularly service workers, who were the biggest consumers. A university survey of 2,500 employees found that some service workers and support staff members had been drinking up to a liter of soda at work and at home each day, or almost three cans. Six months after the policy went into effect, these workers had reduced their consumption by about a quarter.”

The full results won’t be known until they’re published. But an additional benefit might be evident now, and it has to do with employee engagement.

Said One employee who is enrolled in the study, Kristine Obiniana, an analyst at the medical center, “It makes me feel like they really care about their employees and what people are putting into their bodies.”