NSW will be the first state in Australia to remove sugary drinks from health facilities, after launching a healthy food and drink policy aimed directly at its own ranks.
Sugary drinks with no nutritional value are set to go, as NSW Health leads by example with its new Healthy Choices in Health Facilities policy framework.
The drinks will be phased out by December 2017.
Westmead Hospital has led the charge for the campaign, running a three-month trial of removing sugary drinks from all vending machines and eateries.
The policy is designed to support NSW Health’s Make Healthy Normal campaign and support staff and visitors by increasing the availability and choice of healthy foods and drinks in NSW Health facilities.
Healthy choices will make up at least 75 per cent of offerings.
NSW Health Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said vending machines, cafes and catering services were all earmarked to offer more healthy options for staff and visitors.
“We are working toward a five per cent reduction in overweight and obesity rates in adults by 2020, and there’s no better way to start than right here on our own doorstep,” she said.
“It is important NSW Health provides healthy food and drink choices for all our staff and visitors.
“By establishing this model, we hope it shows how a workable strategy can be successfully implemented across any organisation to assist healthier choices in any staffing environment.”
Some local health districts have already set the pace.
Murrumbidgee Local Health District removed sugary drinks last December and Western Sydney and Nepean Blue Mountains LHDs have also started the process.
Local health districts will implement the policy and oversee it, with annual monitoring across all NSW Health facilities.
Professor of Medicine and Senior Staff Specialist in the Department of Endocrinology at St Vincent’s Hospital Dr Katherine Samaras congratulated NSW Health for its leadership in making healthy choices easier.
“This ground-breaking approach to providing healthier options for staff and visitors in health facilities supports the important healthy eating advice clinical staff are giving to patients and the community,” she said.
“Healthier choices are fundamental to good health and healthy food is some of the best medicine we can have.”
More information on the policy (Healthy Food and Drink in NSW Health Facilities for Staff and Visitors Framework), tools and resources to support implementation can be found at www.health.nsw.gov.au/heal
Tips to Make Healthy Normal can be found at www.makehealthynormal.nsw.gov.au