FORT WORTH — Hospital visitors at Baylor All Saints Medical Center are lingering longer at the vending machine these days, looking for their beverage of choice.
"I'd have picked a regular Coke," said Don Wells, instead of the calorie-free Coke Zero in his hand.
The entire Baylor health care system — more than a dozen facilities — is eliminating sugar-sweetened sodas from cafés and vending machines.
The only options now are diet drinks, fruit juice, or water.
"We're merely controlling the environment to set people up to be successful," said Baylor registered dietitian Ashley Mullins.
Mullins said given the obesity epidemic, it's the medical system's responsibility to set a healthy example — even if people don't like it.
And some clearly don't.
"Well, I'm an adult," Nancy Larsen said, "And I think I can make my own decision."
On the other hand, Ellen Tatarsky supported the decision.
"I think it's great," she said. "People should not be drinking drinks with sugar in them."
In some areas, half-sized cans of sugary sodas can still be purchased.
Hospital-based convenience stores have the option to also stock the fully-loaded beverages. But it's Baylor's goal to eventually phase out sugar-sweetened drinks everywhere.
The changes even extend to snack options, which now are all either low-cal or high-nutrient.
Mullins said sometimes people exposed to better choices find they do like it.
"It can be for some a bummer, because it's not what they're used to," she said. "But we're trying to create an awareness for people that when they do make these choices, how to enjoy it sensibly."