|12 kg of Coca-Cola pot = 39 g of Free Sugar (9.75 ha) Offered to residents at the recent CaRMS event|
Today's guest place comes from former medical resident Jen Crichton (who you can follow on Twitter). After returning from a recent CaRMS event and telling me what is being served (spends a month with us at our office) reminded me that people consume what is given to them, and that of all people, doctors should be considering that in the offers their.
The Food Guide of Canada in 2019 was released in January. One of the many welcome changes is the recommendation for water as the drink of choice. The new guide also recommends that sweet drinks (100% fruit juice, milk or milk substitutes with added sugars, popcorn, sports and energy drinks, etc.) should not be consumed regularly. Section 2 of the Guide states that:
"Food and beverages offered to publicly funded institutions should be in line with the Canada Food Guidelines. "
Many universities have previously banned the sale of bottled water on the campus (to name just a few: McGill, Ottawa, Queen & York, York). These initiatives are due to obvious and justifiable concerns about sustainability in plastics. However, continuing selling other sugary drinks in plastic bottles we ignore the elephant in the room. Why are we bottled bottled water but not bottled water with extra sugar? A 2016 hospitality by Sean Bawden explored this idea:
"Bottled water is considered useless and unnecessary (See this video as an example), a spot that did not seem to stick to a similar disposable bottle if it was filled with something other than water […] A plastic bottle is a plastic bottle. any environmental concerns and any objections to the use of such containers should apply equally irrespective of the contents of the container. "
It's no secret that food environments shape our choices. Investment, I was part of an undergraduate medical event where the organizers tried to buy remote water from the campus and bring it back to space. Many students had a relieved and renewed reaction to the less common choice of sparkling water.
Conversely, since I just completed the CaRMS tour a year ago, I remember the challenges of making healthy choices amid continuous travel, social events, and breakfast and interview meals. This year I felt with the candidates who were in only one of the many stops on a trip. Each day of interview is high. all hope to match a stay program to complete their medical training. Do you really need the extra decision to choose water through freely available orange juice or pop soda? Or is it not even a conscious decision because of the social stigma associated with bottled water compared to other beverages? Or the anxiety and vulnerability of the day leads them to choose a sweetened choice that they will not otherwise consider? Similar to other medical events:
"All [people] here are people, when they face lenient dietary choices, choose them. "
As residents, we are the next generation of doctors in education. In many different medical specialties, we advise patients to avoid sugary drinks for their health. We regret with our patients that the food environment around us can be difficult to make healthier choices. And then on a personal level, staying can be a period of sleep deprivation and limited self-care activities such as cooking and exercise. In medicine and indeed in any field where one has public influence, we must stop avoiding opportunities to be leaders in the promotion of water as a health choice drink.
Sure, it can be difficult to thank everyone for events. However, in an area where there is no longer any debate on health impacts and recommendations, let us choose to be better models with regard to over-consumption of sugar and its role in obesity and other chronic diseases. I do not propose to embrace the disposable plastic bottle all the time, but rather to rethink our indifference (or even preference) for other sugary drinks that are distributed in plastic bottles or otherwise.
The challenge is for us to create supportive environments that remind us to bring a reusable bottle or cup to make access to safe drinking water readily available and not to sanction our health by offering choices of confectionery.
It does not have to be complicated. It just needs to be the default.
Proposed simple guidelines for colleges, universities, hospitals and other publicly funded institutions:
- The number one water: Always offer water as the drink of your choice.
- Sustainability whenever possible: The water delivered to an environmentally friendly bowl or bottle is the best.
- Avoid Sweet Drinks: Do not give up bottled water in favor of 100% fruit juices, soda, sports or energy drinks or other sugar beverages.
Jen Crichton is a family physician who is involved in Ottawa's education with interest in nutrition and exercise as it crosses all aspects of primary care. She loves all things actively: CrossFit, Running, and Puppies.