Research Finds Lack of Healthy Options in Hospital Vending Machines in England

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30th August 2013 11:13 - Health

A World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) survey has found that, three quarters (73%) of English health trusts do not have a policy on the food sold in their vending machines. This is in contrast with - the Welsh and Scottish governments, which introduced guidelines in 2008.

Scotland and Wales, unlike England, have national guidelines in place where vending machines are recommended to be stocked with at least 30% healthier choice products.

The WCRF survey asked all 146 hospital trusts in England about their policy on vending machines. Of the 100 which responded, eighty one said they did not have a policy. Only eleven said they did have a vending policy – and eighteen hospitals said a policy was currently under development.

Over half (58%) of hospitals said their vending machines were not stocked with 30% healthy products. However, among respondents, two thirds (67%) said that they offered at least one healthier choice option for each product type.

Amanda McLean, General Manager at the WCRF, said:

“These foods cause obesity - they are partly to blame for many people ending up in hospital in the first place... They should be beacons of good health in our communities and encourage and support people in making healthier choices about the food they eat.”

Professor Terence Stephenson, Chairman of the AoMRC, said:

“The NHS needs to avoid providing the same obesogenic environment as the high street and send out a clear message that it takes obesity and the health of the nation seriously.”

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