A hospital in Manchester has become the first in Britain to ban sugar from its restaurant in an attempt to tackle growing concerns about obesity among NHSstaff.
Tameside hospital has removed all added sugar from the meals it prepares for visitors and health service workers, and taken sugary snacks and fizzy drinks off its menu. The only drinks visitors can buy are tea, coffee, milk and water.
The move has been welcomed by campaigners, who are urging other hospitals to follow suit.
“This is long overdue and I believe it just takes one hospital to make this move and all the others should follow, and I hope they will. The Department of Health … seems to be really slow on the uptake and are only just now thinking about banning sugary drinks from hospitals. But it’s sugar in food that is so important. I just think [Tameside’s plan] is excellent and I wish them well,” said Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum.
Steve Morton, from Public Health England North West, said: “It’s fantastic to see one of our local hospital trusts taking such encouraging steps to tackle the country’s obesity problem. Large employers can set a great example by encouraging their staff to think about their health by opting for healthier food and restricting less healthy options such as sugary snacks and fizzy drinks.”
The hospital restaurant’s chef, Simon Smith, is one of the few dietetically-trained chefs in the NHS. He also provides low-carbohydrate healthy main courses. “He is preparing a lot of stuff – and it’s a large hospital, not a small one,” said Fry.
Tameside’s move comes after an NHS England consultation in November last year found widespread support for a ban on sugary drinks in hospitals and clinics. Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “It’s important the NHS practises what it preaches on healthy food and drink. We want 2018 to be the year when the tasty, affordable and easy option for patients, staff and visitors is the healthy option.”
Tameside hospital introduced its ban following the success of trial in which 100 staff members signed up for a weight loss scheme which changed their attitude towards food. The 12-week Slimpod programme was commissioned by the trust’s chief executive, Karen James, because of her concerns about the health of staff.