RANSON, W.Va. - A medical facility in Jefferson County is taking a step to fight obesity by eliminating sugar-sweetened drinks.
Jefferson Medical Center officials say they will no longer sell sweetened beverages in their food services and vending machines. The plan applies not only for staff, but patients and visitors. Items include regular soda, sweetened teas as well as flavored milk.
Visitors and patients will still have the option to choose from diet soda, unsweetened teas including flavored water. Officials say sugared drinks is the leading problem of the nation's obesity epidemic.
"Every diabetic costs the health care system $15,000 to $20,000 a year. The diabetics are being diagnosed earlier. They are getting it earlier because of the food and when you add that cost up over a lifetime, it's completely unsustainable," said Mark Cucuzzella, Professor of Family Medicine at West Virginia University.
However, visitors will still be able to bring in sugared drinks. The plan will begin to phase in on April 2.