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Hospital sugary drinks ban comes a step closer

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

21st April 2017 – A spoonful of sugar is supposed to help the medicine go down, but there'll soon be fewer sugary drinks on sale in NHS hospital shops in England. It's after some leading suppliers agreed to cut sugary drinks sales to 10% or less of their total drinks sales on NHS premises by April 2017.

WH Smith, Marks & Spencer, Greggs, Subway, Medirest, ISS and the Royal Voluntary Service have agreed to the voluntary regulations, according to NHS England.

Retailers that don't comply will face a total ban on selling sugary drinks in NHS hospital shops.

Obesity and diabetes

NHS England says the move sends a message to the public and NHS staff that sugar contributes to obesity, diabetes and tooth decay.

The NHS says efforts are continuing to persuade other retailers to comply.

Drinks affected would be any beverages with added sugar including fruit juices, sweetened milk-based drinks and sweetened coffees.

The move follows a consultation last year.

'Great news'

In an emailed comment, Chris Askew, chief executive of Diabetes UK, says: "It’s great news that the NHS is leading by example and taking this step to make hospitals healthier places for all of us.

"People with diabetes find it difficult to manage their condition well in hospital. They may rely on a sugary drink to treat their hypos, which is when blood sugar levels go too low due to diabetes medication. With this plan, people with diabetes should still have access to products that are commonly used to treat hypos."

Unhealthy promotions

NHS England says progress has been made in 2016/17 to cut all price promotions on sugary drinks and foods high in fat, sugar or salt, end advertisements of these foods on NHS premises, stop sales at checkouts and ensure healthy food options are available at all times, including for those working night shifts.

It now wants:

  • 60% of confectionery and sweets stocked not to exceed 250 calories, rising to 80% of confectionery and sweets in 2018/19.
  • 60% of pre-packed sandwiches and other savoury pre-packed meals to contain 400 calories or less per serving and not to exceed 5g of saturated fat per 100g, moving to 75% in 2018/19.
Reviewed on April 21, 2017

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