Providence ditches soda

Providence has a New Year’s resolution we can all get behind: Swapping sugary drinks for healthier choices.

Beginning this week, Providence in Oregon is phasing out sugary drinks in its dining areas, vending machines, catering and gift shops. Any drink – carbonated or not – with added sugar will be eliminated.

That includes regular soda, energy drinks, sports drink, prepackaged sweetened coffee and tea drinks, lemonade, punch, some fruit and vegetable juices and flavored waters with added sugar.

(Don’t worry, java lovers, Providence is not making changes to beverages at coffee carts. You can still get your sugary mocha.)

The only exception will be in patient care areas, where regular soda will be available to patients upon request.

And, of course, people can bring in their own sugar beverages; Providence won’t be confiscating soda.

Providence will continue to offer fruit-infused water, bottled water, seltzer water, sugar-free or diet drinks, milk and 100 percent fruit and vegetable juices.

“We’re making this switch because sugary drinks play a major role in the development of obesity – which Providence physicians and dietitians, along with national health experts, view as a serious health problem,” said Theron Park, chief executive of delivery systems, in announcing the change. “Sugary drinks are also a major factor in developing Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.”

Studies have shown drinking one to two sugary drinks each day can increase a person’s risk of Type 2 diabetes by 25 percent.

And while sugary drinks contain little or no nutrition, they do account for about 46 percent of the added sugar in our diets, according to Providence.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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