Huge chocolate bars are set to be banned from hospital shops, vending machines and canteens in England, according to the National Health Trust.
The head of the NHS says that chocolate and other sweets sold in hospitals should be no more than 250 calories, meaning “grab bags” will be prohibited. Hospitals are also going to be given a cash incentive for complying with the change, the BBC reports.
These proposals would also see 75% of pre-packed sandwiches at under 400 calories. Pre-packed savory meals and sandwiches must not contain more than 5g or saturated fat per 100g, as well.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said that the agency is “stepping up” its efforts to combat an issue that is causing “an epidemic of obesity, preventable diabetes, tooth decay, heart disease and cancer.”
In place of calorie-laden, sugary snacks we want to make healthier food an easy option for hospital staff, patients and visitors.
NHS staff workers are also being included in the plans to address unhealthy eating habits, including those who are on overnight shifts. Public Health England says that hospitals play an “important role” in addressing obesity, not just dealing with the consequences.
In April, NHS warned that it would put a ban on sugary drinks if hospitals did not reduce the volume that they sold. “A spoonful of sugar may help the medicine go down but spoonfuls of added sugar day in, day out mean serious health problems. The NHS is in a great position to take action on the damage being caused by poor diet to the nation’s health and the wider healthcare system,” Stevens said. “With more money spent each year on the treatment of obesity and diabetes than on the police, fire service and judicial system combined, urgent action is needed.”
As a result, several companies complied. WHSmith, Marks & Spencer, Subway and Greggs were among the retailers that agreed to reduce the proportion of sugary drinks they sell in hospital shops.