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Many institutions – like schools, hospitals, and workplaces – have reduced the availability of sugary beverages to combat health problems like weight gain, diabetes, and heart disease. But for some people, a sales ban that takes the temptation away from the workplace may not be enough.
Sugary drinks make up 34 percent of the added sugar in the American diet, and for people who experience cravings and compulsive cravings for sweet drinks, potent interventions may be in addition to that, according to a new study published March 29 in the Annals Ban on sales in the workplace required of behavioral research.
In 2015, UC San Francisco banned the sale of sugary beverages, defined as sodas, sports and energy drinks, “fruit drinks” such as fruit-flavored drinks that are not 100 percent fruit juice, and sweetened teas and coffees.
In recent years, an interdisciplinary team of researchers from UCSF has investigated the effects of the ban.
From the start, the researchers knew that some people might need stronger intervention, and they conducted a “tiered” intervention by adding an individual motivational session in addition to environmental changes.
Before the sales ban began, participants reported on their sugary drink consumption and why they drink it – be it as a reaction to stress, because of the pleasant taste or because of strong cravings.
Half of a sample of UCSF staff were randomized to have a 10-minute meeting with a trained healthcare professional who provided a brief counseling intervention and a few subsequent phone calls to discuss obstacles. The session included educating people about sugary drinks and the effects of sugar on liver and disease risk, and setting goals to stop or reduce them.
The researchers contacted the participants six months later to reevaluate their consumption of the same type of drink.
As reported in JAMA Internal Medicine, the sales ban reduced consumption by 45 percent across the sample, and the sample also showed a decrease in abdominal obesity. However, participants who stated that they drank sugary beverages because of their strong desire did not benefit from the sales ban alone. But when they also received the brief intervention, they reduced their consumption by about 19 ounces per day. Drinking due to stress or indulgence was reportedly unrelated to the results of this study.
“This is noticeable,” said Ashley Mason, Ph.D., lead author, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Studies, and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “If we can figure out who could benefit from an intervention as brief and simple as this, we could usefully reduce the amount of sugar heavy drinkers actually consume.”
Elissa Epel, professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Research, the lead author, has studied the effects of compulsive and emotional eating on metabolic health.
“The possibility of influencing metabolic health with an institute-wide ban on sales alone is very exciting. However, we know one size is not all right, and for many, sugary beverages have become a compulsive habit that is difficult to break,” he told Epel, a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences. “But with a slight motivational intervention, many have changed their daily habits. Any reduction in sugary drinks makes sense, and they have reported large reductions for this risk group.”
Robert Lustig, Professor Emeritus of Pediatrics and Study Doctor, noted, “SSBs contain two addictive substances: sugar and caffeine. But sugar is worse because it affects metabolic health and is hidden in processed foods without our knowledge. We know how difficult it is to do that Breaking sugar addiction, but this study shows it is possible to collaborate with both personal and social interventions. “
Laura Schmidt – Co-PI of the study, UCSF Professor of Health Policy and Expert on Interventions in Food Policy – commented: “The next step is to untangle the effects of the brief counseling intervention and the sales ban, as well as their synergies, especially for people For those trying to quit, supportive intervention alone may not be enough. However, using a no-sale policy to relieve temptation from the workplace could be very helpful. ”
The ban on the sale of sugared drinks in the workplace has positive effects on health
Ashley E. Mason et al. A brief motivational intervention reduces sugary beverage consumption (SSB) differently, Annals of Behavioral Medicine (2021). DOI: 10.1093 / abm / kaaa123 Provided by the University of California, San Francisco
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