NHS calorie cap leads to 632 million fewer calories sold in hospitals

5 April 2018 (Last Updated April 5th, 2018 16:20)

The NHS calorie cap on confectionary sold in hospitals has led to a decline in the sales of unhealthy foods and millions of fewer calories consumed.

NHS calorie cap leads to 632 million fewer calories sold in hospitals
NHS calorie cap resulted in 632 million fewer calories sold over the past year. Credit: Wolfmann

The NHS calorie cap on confectionary sold in hospitals has led to a decline in the sales of unhealthy foods and millions of fewer calories consumed.

Late last year the NHS introduced a calorie cap to limit confectionery sold in hospital stores, canteens, vending machines and other outlets to 250 calories, including unhealthy sandwiches and drinks.

The scheme aims to fight obesity, diabetes and tooth-decay.

So far 152 out of 232 NHS trusts have signed up to the campaign, resulting in 632 million fewer calories being consumed by hospital staff, patients and their friends and family over the past year.

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “We now know that obesity causes 13 different types of cancer as well as heart attacks and strokes, so the NHS has needed to get its own house in order on the epidemic of flab. Once the Easter eggs are gone, the NHS will be getting on with ensuring our hospitals and their retailers are offering healthier food and drinks for patients, relatives and staff.”

WH Smith has announced it removed advertising and promotions on the hospitals premises, as well as 275,000 family-size chocolate bars (161 million less calories), and as a result has sold over 1.1 million fewer single chocolates bars in the last year meaning 264 million fewer calories consumed.

In total, 425 million calories have been removed by WH Smith alone.

As a result of the campaign, hospital retailers sold an additional 175,000 pieces of fruit.

NHS England National Clinical Director for Diabetes and Obesity professor Jonathan Valabhji said: “We have been clear that the growing obesity crisis sweeping the country is a public health crisis and the evidence backs it up.

“Our own sugar restrictions, the new sugar tax and the NHS diabetes prevention programme are all part of what needs to be a concerted effort to address obesity.”

Other retailers have also taken steps to limit the number of high calorie snacks sold in their hospital stores.

The Royal Voluntary Service has changed their sandwiches range and reduced calorie intake by over 75 million calories a year.

Together with WH Smith and M&S it is also running a healthy meal deal exclusively in hospitals, with sandwiches under 400 calories and healthy snacks.

Costa has removed the large size from their seasonal drinks in hospital stores, and made cream topping an optional extra rather than a standard.

A total of 80 out of 232 NHS trusts across the country have failed to sign up to the voluntary scheme to reduce sales of sugar-sweetened beverages which aims to reduce the number of sugary soft drinks, milkshakes and hot drinks with added sugar syrups, to 10% or less of all beverages sold across NHS hospitals.

Stevens warns that if this target is not met, he would introduce a ban stopping hospital sites selling fizzy drinks, which could come into effect on July 1.