The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and founding partners, including LiveWell Colorado, Centura Health, Children’s Hospital Colorado, Denver Health Medical Center and Denver Public Health, Lutheran Hospital, the University of Colorado School of Medicine—Department of Pediatrics, Jefferson County Public Health, Tri-County Public Health, and Kaiser-Permanente Healthcare, recently launched the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact, a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed to improve nutrition for patients and their families, visitors, and staff. Compact members agree to promote healthy food and beverage options in their cafeterias, vending machines and patient menus, and support new moms in breastfeeding their babies.
Dr. Larry Wolk, health department executive director and chief medical officer, recognized founding partners and partner hospitals at the public launch ceremony for the compact on Nov. 14. “The Healthy Hospital Compact is about setting the example,” Wolk said.
Compact partner hospitals choose programs to implement and are recognized for what they achieve against a comprehensive set of standards. The four programs areas available and a sample of the standards for each are as follows:
- Healthy Food Program: Compact hospitals offer daily healthy adult and child meals and a proportion of healthy snacks and side dishes.
- Healthy Beverage Program: Compact hospitals offer free water and sugarless drink options.
- Marketing Program: Compact hospitals promote healthy food and beverage choices through signage, labeling and discounts.
- Breastfeeding Support Program: Compact hospitals provide trained staff members to help mothers breastfeed their babies in the hospital and refer them to lactation support services upon discharge. They also must offer staff members a time and place to breastfeed.
While Colorado is the leanest state in the nation, one in five Colorado adults and one in seven Colorado children are obese. Obesity puts people at risk for diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and other diseases. Coloradans spend more than $1 billion each year on obesity-related health care. Wolk said hospitals can play a critical role in reducing obesity by working with the health department and other hospitals in the compact to develop best practices in hospital nutrition and breastfeeding.
“We are committed to making Colorado the healthiest state in the nation,” Wolk said. “Working with hospital partners statewide to make sure their patients and families, visitors and staff have healthy food and drink choices is just one of the ways we are turning back the tide of obesity.”