Sugary drinks make way for healthier options at Far West LHD

Sugary drinks are making way for healthier options in health facilities within the Far West Local Health District in support of NSW Health’s Healthy Food and Drink in NSW Health Facilities for Staff and Visitors Framework.

Sugary drinks with no nutritional value will be removed as part of the framework.

The policy is designed to support the NSW Government’s 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.

Vending machines, cafes and catering services have all been earmarked to offer more healthy options for staff and visitors.

“We are a health facility and should be providing healthy options for all staff and visitors,” said Ms Tracy Herlihy, Dietitian Far West LHD. She said healthier choices are fundamental to good health and healthy food is some of the best medicine we can have.

“Reducing overweight and obesity is a priority for the NSW Government as it is associated with a wide range of chronic health conditions including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, stroke and some cancers,” said Ms Herlihy.

“Eating too many unhealthy foods and not enough healthy foods is a major contributor to overweight and obesity – one in two adults and more than one in five children in NSW are overweight or obese. However no single action will be able to tackle overweight and obesity.

“Providing healthier food and drink options in food outlets in NSW Health facilities is part of a range of initiatives that the NSW Government is introducing to make healthy normal. NSW Health has a responsibility for the wellbeing of our staff and visitors. This includes creating a healthy food and drink environment that makes the healthy choice an easy choice.

“The Framework aims to support our staff and visitors to make the healthy choice an easy choice by increasing the availability of healthy options to 75% or more of the menu and decreasing the availability of less healthy options to no more than 25% of the menu, including the removal of sugary drinks for sale,” said Ms Herlihy.

The Far West LHD hopes to be compliant by start of January 2018 at the Broken Hill Hospital. The change is being steered by a working party, including involvement by BH Kiosk Auxiliary representatives. Vending machine representatives are being consulted as well. The compliancy requirements also extend to LHD facilities outside of Broken Hill.

Drinks that don’t meet the Healthy Choices criteria will be phased out and replaced with alternatives. Drinks that will be replaced include normal soft drinks, sports drinks, fruit drinks, flavoured mineral waters with added sugar, iced teas and energy drinks. What will be available includes water, mineral water, mineral water flavoured with essence, 99% juice (<400ml), flavoured milk (<500ml), diet soft drink, tea and coffee.

In 2018 the Framework extends to include food sales, using four focus areas: product availability, product quality, product size and marketing.

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 NSW Health – Healthy Eating Active Living page. Tips to Make Healthy Normal can be found at Make Healthy Normal website.

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