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Junk food vending ban

25th March 2008

The Labour-Plaid Cymru assembly government in Wales has declared that "junk" foods will be taken out of vending machines in NHS hospitals.

Chocolates

Foods including chocolate and high-sugar drinks will not be available in the machines as part of a UK-wide programme to fight obesity.

The removal will take place over the next six months and will ensure 129 hospitals - out of 130 - will have healthier options available by 2010.

Health Minister Edwina Hart said the removal of junk food was the "first stage" in improving hospital meals. She said what people ate had an effect on preventing "obesity and chronic diseases such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers."

"The assembly government is committed to improving the health of the population of Wales and reducing inequalities by tackling the underlying causes of ill health," she said.

She added that it was important to foster a setting where the public could choose healthy options and the NHS should act as "an exemplar of best practice".

Wales has the most overweight or obese children in the UK, with nearly 20% of children aged between six and 13 weighing too much. 50% of women and 60% of men are also overweight or obese.

According to research by Cardiff's University Hospital of Wales, a very limited number of NHS trusts provided vending machines which had 50% or more healthy drinks available "in or near" paediatric departments in Welsh hospitals.

Huw Jenkins, consultant paediatric gastroenterologist at the hospital, said Ms Hart's declaration would mean "all vending machines are stocked with healthy options in the future".



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