Hospitals have been ordered to stop selling super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sugary snacks.
In the next phase of its plan to fight obesity, diabetes and tooth-decay, NHS England announced a 250-calorie limit on confectionary sold in hospital canteens, stores, vending machines and other outlets.
In 2018/19, health services will also receive financial incentives if they push healthy options to staff, patients and visitors. This could include measures to ensure that:
- 80% of confectionery and sweets stocked do not exceed 250 kcal
- 75% of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals contain 400 kcal or less per serving and do not exceed 5g of saturated fat per 100g
- 80% of the drinks lines stocked must have less than 5g of added sugar per 100ml.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “In place of calorie-laden, sugary snacks we want to make healthier food an easy option for hospital staff, patients and visitors.”
Action has already been taken to remove price promotions and stop sales of sugary drinks and foods high in fat, sugar or salt (HFSS) at checkouts. Advertisements of HFSS foods on NHS premises have also been banned, with healthy options available “at all times”, including for those people working night shifts.
In April NHS England announced that the retailers – WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, Greggs, Subway, Medirest, ISS and the Royal Voluntary Service – have agreed to continue voluntarily reducing sales of sugary drinks to 10% or less of their total drinks sales within hospitals over the coming year. Stevens has threatened to ban sales of sugary drinks if the scheme doesn’t work.
The Royal Voluntary Service said initiatives put in place to date have already changed behaviour: in the first quarter of 2017, year-on-year sales of fruit increased 25%, healthier chilled snacks like salad and sushi by 55% and healthier sweet and savoury snacks like popcorn and dried fruit by 109%.