HOSPITALS across Greater Manchester and England are to ban super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” in a move to curb obesity, diabetes and tooth-decay.

The move comes as NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, has announced a 250 calorie limit on confectionery sold in hospital canteens, shops and vending machines and has told hospital chiefs that four out of five items purchased on the premises do not bust the limit.

Statistics released in November last year revealed that 25% of 11 year olds in the city are classed as obese compared with a UK average of 19.8%.

Sandwiches and drinks are also being tackled and there is already legislation in place to remove promotions and offers on sugary drinks and foods high in fat, sugar or salt whilst making a promise to ensure that healthy food options are available at all times.

Mr Stevens praised the move, saying that: “NHS is now stepping up action to combat the ‘super-size’ snack culture which 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.”

The plans don’t stop there though, as health services will receive financial incentives if they make efforts including:

  • 80% of confectionary and sweets do not exceed 350 calories.
  • 75% of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals to contain 400 calories or less per serving.
  • 80% of drinks must have less than 5g of added sugar per 100ml.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England believes that hospitals have an important role in addressing obesity: “It’s not just treating those suffering the consequences, but helping to prevent it in the first place. Any plans to offer healthier food are a positive step towards tackling the country’s obesity problem.”

Andrew Roberts, Business Enterprise Manager for Royal Voluntary Service said that: “We took an early lead on the NHS workforce healthy agenda by introducing our Healthier Choices programme and it is already having a significant effect on consumer behaviour.  In the first quarter of 2017, year on year sales of fruit increased by 25%, healthier chilled snacks like salad and sushi by 55% and healthier sweet and savoury snacks like popcorn and dried fruit by 109%.

“We will be implementing these new guidelines and are hopeful that they will result in healthier food being a more consistent feature in all Hospital retailers.”

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