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Eyeing Healthier Employees, Workplaces May Soon Ban Soda

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One university's ban on sugary beverages shows positive effects that might hold the key to breaking American's soda habit.

The University of California, San Francisco (UCFS), removed sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda and sports drinks, from their entire campus last year. That includes beverages sold in vending machines, food trucks, restaurants, and stores. That decision made the university—and its more than 24,000 employees—the optimum environment to study the effects of sugary beverages.

The motivation behind the university's decision was to practice what they preach: medical professionals urge patients to cut back on sweetened beverages for their health, so medical professionals should cut back, too. Of the 24,000 employees, a small subset of 214 are participating in a study to find out just what happens when sugary beverage options are removed from the workplace. These participants have had multiple blood samples collected to see if there is any major change to their metabolic rate after reducing soda consumption. 

UCSF reports that the policy, which went into effect a year ago, shows an early but significant reduction in the amount of sodas consumed. A survey by the university reported that service workers, who reported drinking almost a liter of soda at work and at home each day before the ban, have reduced their consumption by a quarter after six months of the sugary drink ban. Full results will be released later.

This campus-wide ban is just one of the many experiments by public officials to find a solution for the strong connection between sugary beverages and high obesity rates. Recent endeavors include Philadelphia's soda tax and the World Health Organization's recommendation for nations to tax all high-sugar beverages. In tomorrow's elections, three cities in California and one in Colorado will vote for a tax on soft drinks. For their part, the American Beverage Association contends that obesity rates continue to climb, despite the drop in soda sales in recent years.