Does the hospital food environment support healthy snack choices?


  • M. Heddle
  • J. Allan
  • F. McKenzie
  • M. Johnston


Background: Food retail units based within hospitals sell a wide range of snacks and drinks to patients, staff and visitors. It is likely that food choice and consumption within these settings will be strongly influenced by availability, and anecdotal evidence suggests that current provision may be skewed towards energy dense, high calorie options. The present study aims to investigate the relative healthiness (or unhealthiness) of snacks and drinks available for sale across multiple hospital sites. Methods: All food retail units (n=70; retail stores, cafes/canteens and vending machines) operating in 11 different hospital sites across the city of Aberdeen, UK (serving approximately 500,000 people) will be visited between January and May 2017. Snacks and drinks available at each unit will be recorded and data on nutritional content, portion size, and relative availability will be descriptively summarised and linked to electronic purchasing data. Expected findings: We expect that many snacks and drinks for sale within hospital settings will be high in calories/fat/sugar and will be from food categories not recommended for daily consumption. We also expect that snack and drink availability will be skewed towards more energy dense options, and that this increased availability will translate into increased sales of these products. Current stage of work: The study is currently halfway through data collection (expected completion date end-March 2017). Discussion: In order to fully support the health of patients, visitors and staff, the options available in food retail units within the hospital setting may need to be significantly modified.





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