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All English NHS hospital trusts agree to ‘cut sugary drinks sales’

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Every NHS hospital in England has agreed to cut sales of sugary drinks on their premises as part of efforts to curb rising levels of obesity.

NHS England said all 227 trusts across the country have now pledged to reduce sales of sugar-sweetened drinks to 10% or less of their total drinks sales.

“Every hospital in the country is now answering this important call to action”

Simon Stevens

Earlier this year, trusts were warned the sale of sugary drinks could be banned altogether if NHS organisations failed to take action on a voluntary basis.

NHS England said growing numbers of hospitals had also been encouraged to sign up after the body introduced cash rewards for those that hit the target last year.

The latest data shows the proportion of drinks sold on NHS premises that contain added sugar has reduced for seven months in a row, falling to just 7.4% in participating trusts in June 2018.

As a result, nearly 30 million teaspoons of sugar have now been removed from NHS canteens, shops and vending machines, according to NHS England, which challenged trust to sign up to the 10% target last year.

As well as hospitals, 14 national retailers operating from NHS premises have signed up to the drive, including WH Smith, Boots, Marks & Spencer and Greggs.

Meanwhile, 23 trusts and two retailers have decided to stop selling sugary drinks altogether, revealed NHS England.

As part of action to improve the health of its workforce, the body has also set out to limit confectionery sold in hospital canteens, stores, vending machines and other outlets.

In October last year, hospital trusts were told they would face losing funding if they failed to remove super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sugary snacks from shelves.

The campaign to reduce the availability of unhealthy food and drink on hospital premises comes amid ongoing concern about staff wellbeing, with nearly 700,000 NHS workers in England estimated to be overweight or obese.

A high-profile study published last year found more than one in four nurses in England is obese with obesity levels even higher among support staff.

As well as having an impact on the wellbeing of individual nurses and other professionals, high obesity rates affect sickness absence – with a knock-on effect on staffing – and may harm healthcare professional’s ability to give credible health and lifestyle advice to patients.

Simon Stevens

Simon Stevens

Source: Peter Searle

Simon Stevens

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens applauded the fact all trusts were now committed to limiting sales of sugary drinks.

“Every hospital in the country is now answering this important call to action and the NHS is rightly leading the way in battling the growing obesity epidemic across the country,” he said.

He added: “Obesity and its associated dangers is a worrying challenge facing the NHS and so it is crucial, as we draw up a long term plan for the future of the NHS that we take action where we can to avoid a long list of preventable problems in the years ahead.”

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Readers' comments (1)

  • So is obesity only due to sugary drinks? What about chips and other oily food dishes? Sweet sugary desserts? Sugar sachets for tea, coffee etc? Why have sugary drinks been singled out as the cause of obesity? Maybe drinks based only on lettuce, celery and other such items should be sold. I loathe the taste of artificially sweetened drinks, and the much touted natural sugar substitute stevia, so I will only drink sugar sweetened ones. I am not obese despite this, primarily because I only have a fizzy drink once a week with my weekly fish and chips. I object to my personal preference being imposed on.

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