The rising consumption of sugar-sweetened drinks (e.g. soda, energy drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks) has been a major contributor to the obesity epidemic – two out of three adults are overweight or obese – in the United States1. Despite the increased number of beverage choices, clean water is the best hydration choice.
Water is key for our bodies to function properly. Water helps our body maintain a normal temperature, lubricates and cushions joints, protects our spinal cord and other sensitive tissues, and gets rid of waste products through urination and sweat.
Since many working adults spend at least eight hours of their day in the workplace, the types of drinks consumed is greatly influenced by the work environment (i.e. what is offered and available). It is important to not only educate staff about healthy beverages, but to also create a work environment where healthy choices are easy. For example, simply telling employees that water is the healthy choice will not get employees to consume more water if water is inconvenient to get at the worksite.
What can employers do to promote water consumption as the best drink choice, along with other low or no-sugar options in the worksite?
Increase the availability of water. The easiest way to promote drinking water is to make it easy for employees to get water. By making water readily available in the workplace, it will become the easy hydration choice. Some ways of doing this include:
- Investing in water cooler(s) in the breakroom, functional filtered water fountain(s), and/or water bottle fill stations;
- Ensuring that clean water is available at no cost;
- Offering beverage options such as water, sparkling water, and fruit infused water (e.g. water with citrus or cucumber slices) instead of sugar-sweetened beverages at meetings and other workplace functions; and
- Establishing a company policy to cater only healthy drink options at work-related events.
Present water as an appealing option. Water can initially taste bland to those who are used to drinking sweet beverages. To make water more attractive and flavorful, offer pitchers of water with added ingredients like crushed berries, mint leaves, lemon slices, and cucumber slices. Another strategy is to increase the price of sugar-sweetened beverages and use the revenue to offset lower prices for healthier drink options such as tea and sparkling water.
Encourage employees to bring reusable water bottles to work. To make it even easier, provide employees with good quality, re-usable water bottles or mugs. You can also add the company logo to the water bottles/mugs to make them more attractive and create a sense of unity and pride among employees. This can also help increase the organization’s visibility when employees use the product outside of work.
What is your organization currently doing to promote healthier drink options? What else can your organization do to make it easier for employees to choose healthier drinks? Check out the Healthy Workplace Toolbox for more nutrition resources and tools.
1Flegal KM, Carroll MD, Kit BK, Ogden CL. Prevalence of obesity and trends in the distribution of body mass index among US adults, 1999-2010. JAMA. 2012;307:491-7.