Children's Hospital Colorado

Healthy Hospital at Children's Hospital Colorado

Healthy Hospital is a way for Children’s Hospital Colorado to empower its staff, patients, their families, and visitors to make healthy choices that lead to better overall health and wellness. When we take accountability for our health in our daily choices, we lead by example, and our bodies and minds are better equipped to weather personal health challenges that may lie ahead.

Read a story about a patient and his family who changed their lives to improve their health.

Children’s Colorado promotes a healthy lifestyle by educating on the five components of Healthy Hospital and offers many opportunities to make healthy choices within the hospital.

See a timeline of Healthy Hospital at Children’s Colorado (.pdf).

The five components of Healthy Hospital at Children’s Colorado


At Children’s Colorado, we take nutrition seriously. Good nutrition comes from making healthy choices and eating a variety of foods, including fresh vegetables and fruit. We are committed to offering healthy options and a wide variety of foods to our patients, team members and visitors, as well as providing simple labeling and nutrition information to help guide healthy choices. A stoplight system of green, red and yellow stickers helps customers identify healthy foods in the Fresh Marketplace cafeteria.

Healthier Beverage Initiative

As part of our Healthy Hospital Initiative and the overall mission of Children’s Colorado, we are committed to providing the healthiest environment for our patients, families, visitors and team members. In addition, we believe we have a responsibility to model and advocate healthy behaviors within our organization and throughout the community.

Beginning March 2017, all Children’s Hospital Colorado-operated locations will be sugar-sweetened beverage free.

Healthy Hospital is proud to continue the work it has done with the Colorado Department of Health and Environment’s Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact by increasing access to healthier foods and beverages that support the health of everyone at Children’s Colorado.

Frequently asked questions about removing sugar-sweetened beverages

Sugar sweetened beverages (SSBs) are drinks that have added sugar or other sweeteners. They include:

  • Carbonated drinks with added sugars (soda/pop)
  • Fruit drinks
  • Sports drinks
  • Pre-sweetened tea and coffee drinks
  • Energy drinks
  • Any other drinks with added sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, honey, or other caloric sweeteners

Children’s Hospital Colorado is committed to promoting child health and creating a healthy environment for our patients, families, visitors and team members. We are joining other hospitals across the country in removing sugary drinks and adding healthier drink choices at our hospital.

Liquid sugar, like that in soda and sports drinks, is the largest source of added sugars in the American diet. Growing evidence shows that eating too much sugar over time can cause serious health problems, including cavities, obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. While we respect personal choice, selling sugary drinks in our buildings does not support our mission and vision.

The new policy will take effect on March 1, 2017. We will slowly phase out sugary drinks over the next two weeks and complete the process by March 15, 2017.

  • Water (filtered tap, unsweetened, naturally flavored, seltzer)
  • 100% fruit juice (< 8 oz. serving size)
  • 100% vegetable juice
  • Milk and milk alternatives
  • Unsweetened teas and coffees
  • Diet drinks

There is no conclusive evidence that low-calorie or artificial sweeteners have harmful impacts on human health (according to the National Institute of Health, Food and Drug Administration, American Dietetic Association). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also has no formal recommendations on the use of artificial sweeteners for children. Based on that evidence, we will still offer diet drinks.

This change will be carried out at all Children’s Colorado locations. This includes:

  • Food Services (cafeterias and inpatient menus)
  • Vending machines and self-serve markets (excludes Memorial, Uptown and the Parker Emergency Department)
  • Nourishment rooms (on inpatient units)
  • Anyone can bring their own non-alcoholic drinks onsite, including sugar-sweetened drinks.
  • A small selection of sugary-sweetened drinks will still be available through room service for patients. These drinks are available when a parent asks for them or when the care team recommends them.
  • Milk shakes and smoothies will still be on the patient menu under desserts.
  • Low-fat and/or regular flavored milks and milk-alternatives will stay on the inpatient menus.

At Children’s Colorado, we value personal choice. Patients, families, visitors and team members can still bring their own non-alcoholic drinks, including sugary drinks, to our buildings. However, to align with our mission and vision, we will no longer sell these products.

Water is the ideal drink for kids and adults because:

  • Water is a free or low-cost, calorie-free drink.
  • Drinking water can lessen added sugars when it is served to children instead of sugary drinks.
  • Water helps to hydrate children’s growing bodies.
  • Fluoridated tap water can also help prevent cavities.

Physical activity

There are increasing opportunities for physical activity on campus. Signage promotes stair usage, fitness experts lead wellness walks, staff lead yoga classes and employees have a gym all their own in the lower level of the hospital. Employees receive incentives to become members at the Anschutz Health and Wellness Center, which also offers patients’ families a place to exercise while their child is in the hospital.

Passes can be purchased for daily, weekly or monthly use.

Students from Denver School of the Arts have turned the main stairwell at Children's Colorado on the Anschutz Medical Campus into an artistic haven by painting murals in the first to fourth floor stairwells.

This Healthy Hospital initiative supports the “Take the Stairs” campaign to encourage physical activity. In 2017 we hope to extend murals into other stairwells.


Be Active (.pdf)

Learn more about the Anschutz Medical Campus.

Emotional and spiritual resiliency

How we think and feel can affect our health just as much as physical ailments; we must nurture our minds and hearts. Our hospital chapel is always open, our labyrinth guides us when we need direction, our staff learn how to calm their hearts, and free yoga instruction helps us find inner harmony. Need a walk? The peaceful Garden of Hope, complete with a walking maze, is located on the North side of the hospital between the Emergency Department entrance and cafeteria entrance.

Seacrest Studios offers yoga each Wednesday at 11:30 to noon. Classes are open to anyone (patients, siblings, parents and visitors) in need of a calming and healthy distraction. Sit, stretch and relax your mind and body for 30 minutes. Namaste!

Employee wellness

We must take care of ourselves so we can always take care of others. The hospital fully supports employees’ efforts to become and remain healthy. Human Resources offers incentives to employees who commit to healthy lifestyles and the hospital frequently shares success stories of employees who have overcome health challenges. Our Healthy Hospital efforts aim to provide team members a with a supportive and healthy workplace environment so that we can in turn be supportive and resilient for the patients and families we serve.

Read stories of employee wellness.


It’s important to keep the earth healthy, too – and Children’s Hospital Colorado is dedicated to a sustainable future. We try to reduce our impact on the local and global environment by composting, recycling and buying local when available. We also commit to promoting the health of children and the community through socially responsible environmental improvements and cost-effective practices.

In January 2017, Children’s Colorado became a member of the national non-profit organization Practice Greenhealth, which provides resources, tools and guidance to healthcare organizations that have made a commitment to sustainable, environmentally preferable practices. By adopting more sustainable practices we believe we can better protect the health of our patients, team members, communities we serve, and the environment.

Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact

In November 2014, Children’s Hospital Colorado signed the Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact, an agreement by hospitals around the state who share a mission to protect and promote the health of hospital patients and their families, visitors and staff. Compact Partner Hospitals will lead by example as they implement measures designed to improve the quality of their nutrition environments.

A platinum logo of a ribbon that says Colorado Healthy Hospital Compact Platinum Recipient

In so doing, hospitals are working to develop a culture of wellness and contributing to the Governor John Hickenlooper’s goal of making Colorado “the healthiest state." As Partners to the Compact, hospitals will gain access to a growing network of peer hospitals that are connected to the latest best practices and innovations in the national healthy hospital movement.

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE) supports the Compact through staffing and technical assistance to encourage healthy food and beverage environments in Colorado hospitals that benefit patients and their families, visitors and staff.

In December 2016, Children's Colorado became the first hospital in the state to attain Platinum Status by committing to program standards set by the Colorado Health Hospital Compact. By making numerous improvements in the nutrition environment, as well as maintaining policies and providing resources that support for breastfeeding mothers, we earned the highest recognition for our healthy food environment.

Since joining the Compact, we have implemented a more health-focused cafeteria menu; new, healthier kids’ menu options; and decreased the amount of unhealthy snacks and beverages. We also revised our room service menu and implemented a stoplight system of green, red and yellow labels with clear, easy-to-read nutritional information to help customers identify healthier food options.

Children’s Colorado implemented other initiatives to achieve Platinum Status, including:

  • Decreased stock of sugar-sweetened beverages from 40%to 20%
  • Increased the availability of healthier ("green") pre-packaged or snack foods to 40% of available items
  • Increased the cost of some unhealthy food and beverages and decreased the cost of healthy items to encourage healthier food purchases
  • Promoted and discounted only food and beverages that are “green” or meet “healthier” standards
  • Added electronic menu boards in our cafeterias with nutritional information listed for our daily offerings

Read an article from the CDPHE about us earning the highest recognition for a healthy food environment.

Additional resources