Jennifer Wessel, JD, MPH
Senior Policy Analyst and Data Privacy Officer
Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield
The Arkansas State and Public School Employees Health Plan
Hospitals across the country are taking steps to reduce sugary drink consumption and improve the food environments within their facilities as a way to support healthy diets for staff, patients, and visitors and to model health-promoting behaviors for their communities. Hospitals are improving access to physical activity through stairs, walking trails, classes, and fitness centers, as well as being smoke-free. Healthy Active Arkansas has identified hospitals as lead corporations to adopt policies that address these food, beverage, and physical activity areas. This case study spotlights the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) efforts to provide healthy choices and their paths to change.
For over a decade, UAMS has implemented many policies and actions through “Get Healthy UAMS” to improve air quality, food/beverage options, and physical activity opportunities; The medical center campus became smoke-free in 2003 and addressed food and beverage offerings on campus through a 2005 vending policy and subsequently by the 2012 beverage vending contract requirements; Physical activity engagement efforts included opening a fitness center for employees and students, and developing walking paths within and around the hospital campus; UAMS Nutrition Services has instituted its campaign to promote water and no/low calorie beverages and serve heart healthy and low calorie dishes.