Hospital Dr News

Retailers in hospitals will have to limit proportion of sugary drinks they sell by next April

NHS England has asked all retailers with hospital outlets to limit sugary drinks to no more than 10% of the total beverages they sell by next April.

WHSmith, Marks & Spencer, Subway and Greggs have all agreed to cut the proportion of sugary drinks they sell in their hospital shops in England.

Companies that do not comply will face a total ban on selling sugary drinks in hospital shops.

Campaigners welcomed the move to limit sugar intake in hospitals, but said it didn’t go far enough.

The BMA, for example, believes that it should be extended from sugary drinks to all junk food.

Retailers have been asked to cut sales of drinks such as fruit juices with added sugar and coffees with sugar syrup and NHS England will ask them to provide sales figures to check on progress.

All retailers in hospitals in England are being urged to make the changes to their stock.

The plans are part of a health drive to cut obesity and tooth decay across the country.

NHS England said progress had already been made this year to remove all price promotions on sugary drinks and junk food sold in hospitals and to make sure healthy food options were available at all times for patients and staff.

Over the next 12 months, NHS England now wants hospitals to stock a healthier range of sweets and confectionery and more low-fat and low-calorie pre-packed sandwiches.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said: “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.

“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.”

Professor Parveen Kumar, BMA board of science chair, said: “While this is a step in the right direction, it does not go far enough. These unhealthy drinks have no place in the NHS which is supposed to encourage, and improve, health and wellbeing. Selling sugary drinks in hospitals sends mixed messages to patients and visitors, especially children and young people.

“It is also important to promote the health and wellbeing for staff, who are often so stretched that they have to use on site vending machines for their food.

“I would like to see the NHS go one step further and extend this decision to include all unhealthy food and snacks sold in hospitals, with a sugar content over a specific amount per 100 grams, to help further promote healthy eating.”

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