NSW will be the first state in Australia to remove sugary drinks from health facilities when it launches 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.
The policy is designed to support its Make Healthy Normal campaign and support NSW Health 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 the offering.
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 5 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,” Dr Chant 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,” Dr Samaras said
“Healthier choices are fundamental to good health and healthy food is some of the best medicine we can have.”