QLD hospitals still selling junk food

Posted by Nicole Eckersley on 29th July 2010

A mandatory strategy to phase out junk food in vending machines and canteens through Queensland Health facilities has been slow to take effect, with an evaluation revealing that only one in four facilities have fully complied with the 2007 plan to limit foods with a high sugar, salt and fat content, and 22% implementing less than half the requirements.

The plan, which also included fundraising activities and other hospital dining options, was designed to cut obesity and diet-related disease, is based on the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating, produced by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing. It utilises a ‘traffic light’ labelling strategy, with ‘red light’ foods restricted to 20% of available options.

An evaluation, conducted in May 2009 through an online survey and key informant interviews, said that Queensland Health had made “significant progress” towards achieving key requirements of the plan. However, changing the contents of snack vending machines was described as “difficult and problematic among some staff”.

A variety of similar plans are in place across Australia to encourage healthy eating, including the Smart Choices Healthy Food and Drink Supply Strategy for Queensland Schools, which has reported more success.