SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — Swedish Medical Center in Seattle is the first hospital in the states to remove fruit juice from its menu.
Medical officials are advising the sugary drink be banned in the home too, according to KOMO News. But the decision comes with skepticism among some families visiting the hospital.
“It usually seems like it would be a pretty healthy choice. One-hundred percent juice, so I wouldn’t see why not,” Tim Kolze, father of a 9-year-old patient, told KOMO.
However, doctors are ready to offer explanations for the new ban. Dr. Uma Pisharody, who specializes in Pediatric Gastroenterology, says high sugar intake can lead to harmful conditions in children.
“The most common liver disease in childhood is something called Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). So it’s the exact same fatty liver condition you see in alcoholics, but we call it ‘non’ because it’s in kids,” Pisharody told KOMO. “We know it’s from excessive sugar intake. And one of the molecules in sugar is a chemical called fructose. Fructose directly leads to this non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
Pisharody says the liver disease, which affects about one in 10 children, is due to excess sugar. That excess sugar can often be found in fruit juice beverages which can have up to double the recommended daily sugar intake in an 8 oz. serving.
“So all the patients I take care of, I tell them over and over, cut back on your juice intake. No soda, no added sugars. That’s their mantra. They know not to take juice or sugars,” she told KOMO.
Families began to notice the contradiction of the doctors’ advice and hospital practices. Why would doctors in the medical center be telling patients not to drink juice and then have that juice served in the very same facility?
Pisharody proposed the removal to hospital leaders, who quickly agreed that juice should no longer be routinely offered. The Swedish hospital is the first medical center in the states to make the drastic move.
“I think we’re setting a great example for everyone to follow,” Pisharody said, noting that children shouldn’t consume more than five to eight teaspoons of sugar per day. “Understanding what the numbers are helps parents understand. You can exceed that really quickly. It doesn’t mean eating sweets all day.”