The vending machines of hospitals in England have a lot of snacks with high calories, and there should be guidelines introduced for making them healthier, according to a charity for cancer prevention.

One survey by World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) found that 73% of the health trusts in Englanddidn’t have any policy on food sold throughthe vending machines.Still, the Scottish and Welsh governments did introduce guidelines during 2008.

The experts think NHS should send out clear message regarding choices on healthy food.There aren’t any national guidelines in England on the health content as regardsdrink and food sold through the vending machinesof hospitals, unlike Wales and Scotland where the machines are suggested to get stocked with minimum of 30% healthier products.

In WCRF survey, all the 146 hospital trusts within England were asked regarding the policy over vending machines.Out of 110 that responded, eighty-one said that they didn’t have any policy. Only elevenstated they hadvending policy. Eighteen hospitals said that some policy was undergoing development.

58% ofthe hospitals said that their vending machines weren’t stocked with thirty percent healthy products.Though, 67% did respond that they presented at least 1option of healthier choice for each of the product type.General Managerof WCRF, Amanda McLean,said that crisps, soft sugary drinks and chocolate bars weren’t suitable items sold in the hospitals.

She said,

“Because there is strong evidence that these foods cause obesity – a risk factor in diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease – they are partly to blame for many people ending up in hospital in the first place. Hospitals should put an end to vending machines that sell only high calorie food and drink.”

At conference of British Medical Association during June, the doctors backed the calls intended for hospitals for banning sale of the junk food through cafes and vending machines.

Science board of BMA now is looking at this issue in much detail for persuading Department of Health about introducing the guidelines for every hospital in England.

Academy of Medical Royal Colleges AoMRC did call for ban on the unhealthy foods within hospitals in this year earlier.

AoMRC’s chairman, Terence Stephenson said that NHS has to avoid provision of same environment that’s obesogenicas high street along with sending out clear message about it taking obesity and health of nation seriously through offering staff and patients alike healthy options of food. He said that in February AoMRC called for the improved standards of food in the hospitals, including the vending machines.

5 years back, the Scottish and Welsh Governments introduced the guidelines for the hospital trusts regarding this issue.

Scottish Government Did Produce Nutritional Guidance :

over what makes the products healthy as well as encouraging NHS boards that they should remove the soft drinks that came with high content of sugar.

Its guidelines aim in making at least thirty percent of the vending products a ‘healthier choice’. It says that these products need to be positioned in the vending machines prominently.

In Wales, Government Issued The Guidance:

which included a 5-point charter to ensure that food and the drink sold through these vending machines does have positive benefit nutritionally.

These require drinks and food to comply with the nutritional criteria.

One spokesperson from Health Department said,

“Hospitals in England have a clear responsibility to promote healthier choices in vending machines so staff and visitors can eat good quality food. We know that some hospitals have already signed up to our Responsibility Deal and committed to making healthier food and drink available, and would encourage other hospitals to do the same and look after their staff, patients and visitors.”

Director, Dr Johnny Marshall,of the policy at NHS Confederation, that represents all the organizations which provide NHS services, also said that many of trusts rent the space to some commercial outlets for providing good service for visitors and patients.

He said that nowadays, most of these provide fruit, tea,smoothies, coffee and some range of treats and sweets.He also said that key thing was that NHS does ensure there’re easy means for staff, other users and patients to make the healthy choices.

Further he said that there isn’t any hospital trust within the country which would prioritise relatively little amount of the income that they get through these sources over health of the local community overall.

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