ST. CLOUD -- CentraCare Health is leading by example with a new health initiative.

Starting Monday the health care organization will remove all sugary drinks, such a pop and energy drinks, from their vending machines, coolers and dispensers at all locations.

Dr. Janet Handrigan is the Medical Director of Wellness. She says as a health organization, they felt they needed to practice what they preach.

CentraCare is a health care facility. Our idea is to promote health and prevent disease. We need to look at a culture of health and how do we do that, we need to be role models.

She says obesity is the number one cause of preventable diseases, and added sugar is the main source of the problem.

In the last 40-years sugar consumption has greatly increased. Through sugar sweetened beverages the average american consumes 39 pounds of sugar per year.

CentraCare is not the first health organization to follow this new model.

Jodi Gertken is the Community Wellness Program Director. She says there are studies that show people believe sugary drinks are actually good for you because they are sold in a health care setting.

We really want to insure that when we are taking care of our patients, that we are supporting them at every angle.

David Walz is a CentraCare employee and gave up pop from his diet roughly three years ago. He says before he cut back, he was up to roughly nine pops a day.

I got my money's worth, let me tell you that. I would have four or five drinks with every meal, especially when you have those automatic refills.

Gertken says the initiative won't keep employees or patients from bringing in pop if they choose. However, she says providing healthier options better follows their Feeling Good Minnesota branding.

If you look by default, when we have the healthier choices as the top pick, people are more likely just out of convenience to grab those choices.

Walz says he believes there won't be much of an adjustment for employees or patients and applauds CentraCare for taking this step.