More than half of NHS staff are estimated to be overweight or obese, according to NHS England as they take steps to cut down sugar intake in the general population.
The NHS began a fresh attack on obesity, diabetes and tooth decay by announcing on 21 April that sugary drinks will be banned in hospital shops from next year unless suppliers take decisive action to cut their sales over the next 12 months.
As the largest employer, in Europe, the NHS has more than 1.3 million staff, but nearly 700,000 are estimated to be overweight or obese, impacting on sickness absence and the NHS’ ability to give patients ‘credible and effective’ advice about their health.
NHS England announced leading retailers such as WH Smith, Subway and Greggs, have agreed to continue voluntarily reducing sales of sugary drinks to 10% or less of their total drinks sales within hospitals over the coming year.
Chief executive of Diabetes UK Chris Askew said: ‘As a nation, we’re consuming too much sugar. This can lead to weight gain and in turn increase our risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other health conditions such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. People with diabetes find it difficult to manage their condition well in hospital. They may rely on a sugary drink to treat low blood sugar levels.’
In April, NHS England also introduced new goals which state that, by April 2018, 60% of confectionery and sweets stocked in hospital shops must not exceed 250 kcal, while 60% of pre-packed sandwiches and savoury pre-packed meals must contain 400 kcal or less per serving and not exceed five grams of saturated fat per 100g.
Katherine Button, coordinator for the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said: ‘We are delighted that NHS England has taken such decisive action to reduce the sale of sugary drinks in hospitals and other providers.’