Stop Selling Sickness in Hospitals

Nutrition experts today backed a leading doctor’s call to ‘stop selling sickness in hospital grounds’ and ban junk food for patients.

BANT, the British Association for Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy, said Aseem Malhotra’s report in the British Medical Journal should be taken seriously at the highest level of the NHS and Government.

In his report, Mr Malhotra, an interventional cardiology specialist registrar at the Royal Free Hospital in London, said he was appalled to see patients gorging on junk food that they had bought within the hospital grounds. He called for NHS chiefs to look in their own back yard for answers to the obesity crisis.

BANT Chair Miguel Toribio-Mateas said: “If people are presented with crisps, sweets and fizzy drinks as food options, it is going to be hard for them to say no, particularly if that is what they are used to eating.

“The mission of all hospitals and their staff should be to promote good health and wellbeing to get their patients back to health as quickly as possible.

“Ultimately staff should be given support from the likes of nutritional therapists who can help educate patients on the potential impact of their food choices on their health. Hospital staff should be given the help they need to prepare those in their care to prevent a relapse and a return to hospital.

“What we eat and drink will have a huge impact on our health in the long term. Nutritional therapists use nutritional science to provide education and support to help disease prevention. Wouldn’t it be a great opportunity to give some of that education to those in desperate need of it in our hospitals?  A wider recognition of how food really impacts our health could ultimately relieve the volume and financial pressure on the NHS.

“I would call on NHS chiefs to take Mr Malhotra’s report very seriously and start these sorts of changes close to home in a bid to slow down the obesity epidemic,” he added.

In his report in the BMJ, Mr Malhotra said: “An oversupply of nutritionally poor and energy dense foods loaded with sugar, salt, and trans fats — fuelled by the junk food industry’s aggressive and irresponsible marketing — has even been allowed to hijack the very institutions that are supposed to set an example: our hospitals.

“On daily ward rounds it is appalling to see patients, some of whom are not fully mobile, gorging on crisps, confectionery, sports drinks, and cola—the very food items that may have contributed to their admission in the first place.

“That these consumables are sold to patients through the portable hospital trolleys reflects a marketing strategy by junk food companies to make their products available and accessible to anyone, anywhere, at any time. It is obscene that many hospitals continue to have high street fast food franchises on site, as well as corridors littered with vending machines selling junk food. Such practice legitimises the acceptability and consumption of such foods in the daily diet,” the report stated.

For interviews with BANT representative or for further information, please contact Helen Barklam, tel: 07917 148900 or email communications@bant.org.uk.

Notes to editors

BANT is the professional organisation representing more than 2,000 nutritional therapists across the UK.

Click this link to read the full press release – http://www.bant.org.uk/bant/pdf/pressReleases/STOP_SELLING_SICKNESS_IN_HOSPITALS_20130701.pdf

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