Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hospitals and and food: healthier plates?

Last year, Jamie Oliver added his voice to a campaign aimed at improving the healthy factor of food within NHS hospitals in England – and there were also calls for vending machines selling sweets and crisps to be removed.

Oliver has of course been famous for the last few years for his healthy eating crusades, memorably showing people on his television programmes just how much sugar or fat they eat by dumping a month or year’s worth into a container in one go, with horrified looks from the audience.
Then of course there was Oliver’s valiant attempt to promote healthy eating within a school across the Atlantic.  Holding up a selection of fairly ordinary vegetables, many of the class pupils he asked were unable to identify even the most common among them.

Obviously mass catering on a budget does present its challenges – as Oliver found out while working to improve the food in a UK school. I don’t remember the exact amount of budget the school had available for each meal, but it really wasn’t very much at all. However a report on the subject by the Daily Mail last year gave the example of two NHS trusts in England who cook all their food fresh on site and source their ingredients from independent local suppliers.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg is aiming to make hospitals places of improved healthy eating with his Healthy Hospital Food Initiative – with public hospitals taking measures to decrease the amount of calories in the meals served to patients, while cutting down on the sale of things like crisps and sweets.

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