Lincoln, Nebraska – June 17, 2013 – Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln announced an effort to lower the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in order to help reduce obesity in Lincoln. Although the obesity epidemic has a number of other causes such as too many processed foods, increased portion sizes, and too little physical activity, the single biggest contributor is the number of calories in drinks.
The initiative calls on businesses and organizations in Lincoln to institute healthy vending policies to help make the healthy choice the easy choice. “Even subtle changes in the food environment can make major decreases in the calories consumed,” says Dr. Bob Rauner, director of Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln. The approach includes changes in product placement, changing the mix of products included in vending machines, and promoting the selection of healthier beverages.
Three Lincoln organizations are already participating in the newly released Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln Healthy Beverage Vending Initiative, Assurity Life Insurance Company, Lincoln Industries, and Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center.
“At Assurity, we create awareness around healthy choices and have monthly 5-minute presentations about one aspect of wellness. We have used “Rethink your Drink” for information on hidden calories in drinks. This vending initiative helps take it to the next level of everyday awareness.”
-Jan Zoucha, Assurity Life Insurance Company.
“We always attempt to make the healthy choice the easy choice at Lincoln Industries. We have done this with the addition of an on-site fitness center and medical clinic. The vending change will be another step towards helping people develop healthy behaviors.”
-Greg Howe, Lincoln Industries
“At Saint Elizabeth, we believe we need to be involved in moving healthcare into the future. Leaders in healthcare are obligated to help create a new era of healthier communities! To that end Saint Elizabeth is proud to be one of Lincoln's large employers to support the initiative and lead the way."
-Libby Raetz, Saint Elizabeth Regional Medical Center
Many communities across the country including Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Kansas City have chosen to focus on similar initiatives. The most recent city on this list is Chicago which has launched a community wide campaign involving the City of Chicago, YMCA Chicago, area hospitals, and other community health organizations. PHL hopes to create a similar effort in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Partnership for a Healthy Lincoln is a Lincoln based non-profit organization whose mission is to serve as a catalyst for community efforts to increase fitness, decrease obesity and improve the health of Lincoln residents. Healthy Beverage Vending is not the only initiative PHL is working on. “We focus on prevention and take a lifespan approach to find evidence-based, cost effective ways to improve the health of Lincoln’s residents,” says Dr. Rauner. PHL is also working on a community-wide breastfeeding initiative with area hospitals, physician offices, and outpatient support organizations; the evaluation of BMI data and wellness efforts within Lincoln Public Schools; and a community Rethink Your Drink healthy beverage marketing campaign which recently launched its summer campaign to encourage Lincoln residents to drink more water. PHL is funded in part by the Community Health Endowment.
Organizations interested in offering healthier vending options can sign on to the Healthy Beverage Vending Initiative at www.healthylincoln.org.
Bob Rauner, MD, MPH