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CHICAGO, IL- As leaders in supporting healthy communities, hospitals, healthcare facilities and worksites around the state are working to reduce sugary beverage consumption as part of Rethink Your Drink Month in Illinois.

On the heels of Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s declaration making February 2014 Rethink Your Drink Month, the American Medical Association, the Illinois Critical Access Hospital Network, KishHealth System (DeKalb County), MacNeal Hospital (Berwyn), the five health and hospital systems serving DuPage County and the Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network are urging patients and employees to reduce their consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages.

Our hospitals offer a variety of incentive programs to encourage healthier beverages choices. One offers a punch card to earn free beverages and another is doing a ‘Meal of the Day’ program, where free water is included with that meal option,” said Ann Marchetti, DuPage County FORWARD.

With an average of ten teaspoons of sugar in a single 12 oz serving of soda, the Rethink Your Drink campaign is urging people to “go on green,” drinking plenty of beverages such as water, seltzer water and skim or one- percent milk. Equally important, the campaign recommends that people “stop on red” by rarely, if ever, drinking beverages such as regular sodas, energy or sports drinks and sweetened coffee or tea.

“Hospitals can support the health of the community they serve by having policies and environments that encourage healthy beverage choices and reduce the risk of obesity and related chronic diseases,” said Elissa Bassler, CEO of the Illinois Public Health Institute, which convenes IAPO.

KishHealth System has taken up the charge by adopting a nutritional color-coding system in its cafeterias for beverages and the salad bar using colored utensils and the Rethink Your Drink red/yellow/green traffic light messages. “We are thrilled to  step up to the challenge and make healthy eating easier. As places of healing, hospitals have a natural incentive to provide food and beverages that are healthy for people and the environment,” says Brad Copple, President, Kishwaukee & Valley West Hospitals.

Rethink Your Drink posters are displayed near vending machines at the participating hospitals and health centers to encourage patients to select healthy beverages.

In 2012, MacNeal Hospital in Berwyn eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages, including soda, sports and energy drinks from cafeterias and vending machines. “We eliminated sugar-sweetened beverages to be consistent with our mission to promote health and prevent disease. Sugar-sweetened beverages have been directly linked to obesity in research studies and obesity is linked to chronic diseases like coronary heart disease, hypertension, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer,” said MacNeal’s CEO, Scott Steiner.

Students from the American Medical Student Association are also placing posters around their medical colleges and training hospitals to spread the word.

Employers are also well-positioned to be champions in addressing the obesity epidemic. Considering all the time employees spend at work, employers can make a substantial impact on their employees’ health – an investment that pays off in lower healthcare costs and a more productive workforce.

Toward that end, as part of the We Choose Health initiative, the Healthy Southern Illinois Delta Network (HSIDN) and their partners will host a regional forum for worksites on February 26th. HSIDN is a partnership between Southern Illinois Healthcare, SIU School of Medicine, the health departments in the lower 16 counties of Illinois, and the local community coalitions.   Rethink Your Drink messaging for employers will be highlighted at the forum.

The Rethink Your Drink campaign is an initiative of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity, a coalition made up of more than 140 organizations across the state, which has focused on raising awareness of the health harms of sugary beverages since 2010.

To learn more about the Rethink Your Drink campaign, visit IAPO’s website at www.preventobesityil.org and ‘Like’ IAPO’s Facebook Page for event updates. To learn more facts about sugary drinks, visit http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/sugary-drinks-fact-sheet/.

The primary goal of the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity is to ensure that trends in obesity in Illinois are stable by 2015 and moving downward by 2018. The statewide coalition of over 140 organizations works to implement solutions to the obesity epidemic through coordinated and comprehensive policy, systems, and environmental changes.

*This message was funded in part by a grant from Voices for Healthy Kids, an initiative of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and American Heart Association

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Welcome to CopyLine Magazine! The first issue of CopyLine Magazine was published in November, 1990, by Editor & Publisher Juanita Bratcher. CopyLine’s main focus is on the political arena – to inform our readers and analyze many of the pressing issues of the day - controversial or otherwise. Our objectives are clear – to keep you abreast of political happenings and maneuvering in the political arena, by reporting and providing provocative commentaries on various issues. For more about CopyLine Magazine, CopyLine Blog, and CopyLine Television/Video, please visit juanitabratcher.com, copylinemagazine.com, and oneononetelevision.com. Bratcher has been a News/Reporter, Author, Publisher, and Journalist for 33 years. She is the author of six books, including “Harold: The Making of a Big City Mayor” (Harold Washington), Chicago’s first African-American mayor; and “Beyond the Boardroom: Empowering a New Generation of Leaders,” about John Herman Stroger, Jr., the first African-American elected President of the Cook County Board. Bratcher is also a Poet/Songwriter, with 17 records – produced by HillTop Records of Hollywood, California. Juanita Bratcher Publisher

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