Decreasing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages

By Brian Lemay No comments

(music)NARRATOR: Just a few
decades ago,
Texas was a different place.The food we ate was grown
in our own communities.
Today, we’re moving
less and eating more.
Nearly one in three Texans are
obese, and obesity has become
a leading cause of death
in America.
But Texans are
bringing healthy back.
Across the state, communities
are being reshaped to support
and transform our
health and well-being.
Because reducing obesity
starts with growing community.
(music) ADAM VARNEY: The USAA office
in San Antonio is a small city. Between employees and
contractors, it’s close to 16,000-17,000 people
on a daily basis. PETER WALD, M.D.: USAA is the provider of choice for the military community for
financial service products. Our population looks a lot
like the state of Texas. It’s one-third of our
employees are normal weight, one-third are obese, and
one-third are overweight. ADOLFO M. VALADEZ, M.D: As you
know, today many people spend many hours in a workplace
environment, and that can be one of two things:
either a healthy experience or an unhealthy experience. STEVE ANTUNES: We started
to notice the employees; their body weights were increasing. We were starting to notice that
their healthcare expenses were increasing for behavioral
health-related issues. DR. WALD: The more obese people
we have, the harder it is for us to contain our healthcare costs. DR. VALADEZ: So because people
spend a majority of their time in a workplace, it is also an
opportune place to make changes that are healthier. ADAM VARNEY: One of the biggest
problems with the food industry is just how available
everything is. You know, everything is
right there for you to get. It’s advertised very well. You know, and a lot of these
things are not the best for you. We know that our employees
drink a lot of drinks. So knowing that the trend was
really going the wrong way around the sugar drinks,
we had to do something. GREG GONZALEZ: My name is Greg Gonzalez and I work at USAA as a bank manager. I used to drink a lot of
sodas primarily just regular. You know, nothing diet. And to the point where I’d buy
a 12-pack and it would last maybe two days. And that was just at home, not
to mention the vending machines, and stopping on the way to work,
and grabbing a soda at the convenience store: 32 ounces
or, sadly enough, the 44 ounce. TRACIE WOOD: Sugar-sweetened
beverages are the largest single source of calories
in the American diet. Sugar-sweetened beverages
include sports drinks, sodas, sugar-sweetened juices, anything that has a high
volume of sugar. ADAM VARNEY: There’s an easy
way to discourage people from drinking sugared beverages
and it is in price. Lower the price of
your non-sugar drinks. STEVE ANTUNES: We worked with
our food vendor and our vending vendor, and it was a simple
changeover. They changed the price. They raised the price a little
bit on the sugar beverages, and they decreased the price
significantly on the non-sugar beverages. DR. WALD: Really what you’re
doing is you’re not changing the amount of revenue that comes
out of the vending machine, but you are changing the
content of what is in the vending machine. And that’s a very effective
way to take extra calories out of people’s diets. DR. VALADEZ: In addition to
making changes in vending machines at worksites, I think
a very simple no-calorie solution is making water
readily available. So instead of considering where
that vending machine should go, one might consider where a
water fountain might go so that employees can drink a known low
calorie drink, such as water. GREG GONZALEZ: I needed to
look for something that was low calorie. I just needed
something to drink. So for the first time
probably in my adult life, I started drinking water. ADAM VARNEY: If you want to
start looking at controlling obesity or keeping people
a little bit more honest, you kind of have to help
them a little bit. So one of the best things to
do is to place things that are basically the opposite of what
the industry wants you to do. DR. WALD: We try to present the
most attractive healthy things, so we put the diet drinks
and the water and the baked chips at eyelevel. GREG GONZALEZ: I remember
when they first did it. There was water and it
was always in the bottom. But then one day, I went over
there, and there was the two top rows were water, and then
the sodas were reduced to a smaller area. So that access and
having it available – huge difference. ADAM VARNEY: It was very
easy because we didn’t have to buy anything. We didn’t have to do anything. You just reposition it. It seems like a very simple
solution, and it really is, but it’s had big effects. STEVE ANTUNES: It was kind
of an overnight success. We watched the behaviors change
and they’ve stuck with it. And we’ve been able to be
real successful at keeping our healthcare rise in
the single digits. DR. VALADEZ: What we know is
that people and employers who have made those changes have
reaped the benefits of those changes in a more productive
workforce, in lower healthcare costs and overall, it’s
been a very positive return on investment. DR. WALD: We hope that if people
want to make a change that they know they have to take it home,
because if you go home and there’s burgers and fries,
and Oreos, and Twinkies in the cupboard, it’s really hard to
resist that when you’re trying to lose weight. GREG GONZALEZ: The access to
sodas and things that just aren’t good for me:
that was a big part of it. So what I did was I went home,
and I cleaned out all my pantries, and my refrigerator
of everything that wouldn’t be good for me including the sodas. I do keep myself from
having access to things. ADAM VARNEY: I would encourage
another institution of a larger size to say that things
can be done at no cost. You know, very simple solutions
can be done that can affect large audiences at
literally no cost. DR. WALD: Our programs are
making a huge difference for a large population of people. That’s really the thing that I
think is important in trying to change the population,
and you can really see it happening here. GREG GONZALEZ: Those things
that I’ve learned at work and the things that they’ve
made accessible to me, I brought them home and
shared it with my family, and they’ve all taken to
it as a lifestyle. Quite a change. For the better.NARRATOR: To learn more, visit

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