Page last updated at 23:41 GMT, Friday, 10 October 2008 00:41 UK

Call to ban junk food from NHS

Fizzy drink
Sugary drinks should be removed from vending machines

Hospitals and GP surgeries should follow the lead of schools and ban sugary drinks and snacks, say experts.

The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) called on the NHS to fill its vending machines with water, fruit juices and healthy snacks.

They also called for hospital canteens to follow suit, saying it was essential for teeth and general health.

The government said the NHS and the rest of the public sector should "lead by example" and promote healthy food.

The BDHF says many schools have already banned junk food from their vending machines and canteens. In comparison, however, the NHS has been much slower to act.

We expect the public sector to lead by example
Department of Health spokesman

One exception is NHS Tayside in Scotland which has recently banned sugary drinks in vending machines at some of its hospitals.

Chief executive Nigel Carter said: "The foundation not only backs the NHS Tayside decision, but calls for a UK-side ban on sugar drinks and snacks in hospitals, surgeries and health centres.

"Sugary products taken between meals are the main cause of tooth decay, which can lead to fillings and extractions."

Conditions

He said banning unhealthy food and drink was important in protecting against a range of other health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes.

The Scottish Government has already backed NHS Tayside's move and urged others to follow suit, while the Department of Health also said it wanted similar moves.

A Department of Health spokesman said : "We have stated in the new obesity strategy that we expect the public sector to lead by example.

"The NHS is responsible for promoting and procuring healthy and nutritious food for staff, patients and visitors."

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which produces guidance for the health service in England and Wales, has also recommended the promotion of healthier food in surgeries and hospitals.


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