Fizzy drinks, chocolate, the odd digestive biscuit here and there.

It’s naughty —  and we’re all guilty.

But an NHS hospital in Greater Manchester has said enough is enough, and will become the first English hospital to ban all sugary food and drinks for staff and patients.

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Tameside hospital has taken sugar off the menu — literally. All added sugar has been removed from its restaurant, and the only drinks you can buy are tea, coffee, milk, and water, according to the Guardian.

From July 2018 there will be a blanket ban on all fizzy drinks across NHS England as new contracts are rolled out up and down the country.

But the policy at Tameside hospital goes further, by including food. It follows a successful 12-week “Slimpod” weight loss scheme last year that attempted to address unhealthy snacking among 100 staff members undertaking long shifts, and even included hypnotherapy treatment. It also included a survey, which revealed that 90% of staff felt that snacking was their biggest issue at work.

"My staff work very hard,” said Karen James, chief executive of Tameside hospital. "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. These are dedicated healthcare professionals who believe they should be role models for their patients but the food environment has been working against them.”

Obesity campaigners praised the move — and hopes that it will inspire other hospitals to follow suit. It comes after a report released in December 2017 estimated that 1 in 4 NHS nurses were obese, with researchers suggesting that it may be the result of disruptive shift work.

“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.”

In the UK, a “sugar tax”  will finally take hold this year, after it was first announced by George Osborne in his 2016 budget. It will apply to soft drinks for total sugar content over 5g per 100ml, which includes brands like Coca Cola and Red Bull. It’s due to raise £520 million a year, to be spent on funding sport in primary schools.

Too much sugar in your diet can cause weight gain and have long term health repercussions like diabetes, tooth decay, cancer, and heart disease.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, including Goal No. 3 for good health. Take action with us here.


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A British Hospital Just Banned All Sugary Food and Drinks for the First Time

By James Hitchings-Hales