A Manchester hospital has become the first in the UK to ban sugar from its restaurant to help tackle rising rates of obesity in the UK.
Tameside hospital has removed all added sugar from its meals, with cheese and onion pies, apple crumble, high-sugar breakfast cereals and sugary drinks among the omissions.
The move comes following concerns about obesity among NHS staff, and has been welcomed by campaigners.
“This is long overdue and I believe it just takes one hospital to make this move and all the others should follow, and I hope they will,” said Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum.
“The Department of Health … seems to be really slow on the uptake and are only just now thinking about banning sugary drinks from hospitals. But it’s sugar in food that is so important. I just think [Tameside’s plan] is excellent and I wish them well.”
The change was implemented following a trial at Tameside hospital in which 100 staff members joined a weight loss scheme. A total of 90% said they believe the biggest food-related problem at work was snacking, and by the end of the 12-week programme the majority of staff had changed their attitude towards food.
Karen James, chief executive of Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: “My staff work very hard. Long hours and shift patterns often make it very difficult for people to make healthy choices, so they opt for the instant sweet fixes, which until now have been readily available.”
As part of these new measures, old high-carb dishes such as pie and chips have been removed and replaced with healthier options such as wild and mixed mushroom stroganoff.
The hospital restaurant’s chef, Simon Smith, said: “These dishes have proved very popular and they are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. What we are trying to promote is better, healthy eating.”
Last year, the NHS proposed plans to ban sugary drinks from hospital vending machines to combat rising rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Meanwhile, the government’s sugar tax will be introduced this year. The levy will see drink manufacturers fined for total sugar content over 5g per 100ml.

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