NSW to ditch sugary drinks in health facilities

NSW will be the first state in Australia to remove sugary drinks from hospitals and health services

Sugary drinks with no nutritional value are set to disappear from health facilities, as NSW Health implements a new Healthy Choices in Health Facilities policy framework.

The drinks will be phased out by December 2017.

The policy is designed to support the NSW Government’s Make Healthy Normal campaign and support NSW Health staff and visitors by increasing the availability and choice of healthy foods and drinks in NSW Health facilities. Healthy choices will make up at least 75% of the offering.

NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant says vending machines, cafes and catering services will be expected to offer more healthy options for staff and visitors.

“We are working toward a 5% reduction in overweight and obesity rates in adults by 2020, and there’s no better way to start than right here on our own doorstep,” Dr Chant says.

“It is important NSW Health provides healthy food and drink choices for all our staff and visitors. By establishing this model we hope it shows how a workable strategy can be successfully implemented across any organisation to assist healthier choices in any staffing environment.”

Some local health districts have already moved to withdraw these drinks from sale. Murrumbidgee Local Health District removed sugary drinks last December and Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains LHDs have also started the process.

Local health districts will implement the policy and oversee it with annual monitoring across all NSW Health facilities.

Health stakeholders have applauded the move.

Obesity Policy Coalition executive manager Jane Martin says sugary drinks and unhealthy food have no place in hospitals or health services – and called on other state and territory governments across Australia to follow NSW’s lead.

“Sugary drinks and other high-energy, nutrient-poor products are a major contributor to Australia’s obesity epidemic, but for decades they have been readily available in our hospitals and health facilities. These services are designed to keep our communities healthy – so it just doesn’t make sense for them to sell junk in their canteens,” Ms Martin says.

“It’s fantastic to see  NSW Health taking the proactive step of removing all sugary drinks and introducing more healthy food options in its vending machines, cafes and catering.”

AMA (NSW) President, Prof Brad Frankum, also welcomed the decision.

“Hospitals are the perfect places to be leading by example when it comes to healthy eating – and it should be noted that some have already gone down this route,” he says.

“Ensuring that 75% of foods available in hospitals are healthier options and that only 25% will be occasional foods is a great idea.

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