Recognising the issue in 2017, Southern Health had already reduced the proportion of drinks containing added sugar sold across their sites to just 0.3%. Stella Gardener, Catering Services Manager, said: “We looked into the variety of drinks that we were offering and changed these to the sugar free alternatives, we also introduced more flavoured waters to increase the choice. The changeover went very smoothly with little reaction.”
Now Southern Health has reached 0% sales of sugar-sweetened drinks and has maintained this over the months making the Trust sugar free.
With the fight against Diabetes and obesity one of the largest currently facing the NHS, the potential impact for patients could be huge. Nicki Brown, Associate Director of Specialised Services, who oversees the care of patients with complex mental health needs, said: “Providing sugar free drinks is important to the patients on our wards as they may not get as many opportunities to exercise compared to the general population. We know that sugary drinks are a contributing factor towards diabetes and obesity, which can be linked to depression and other physical health conditions. By removing the sugar sweetened drinks from our sites it will contribute to improving patient’s health and wellbeing.”
Georgette Alayyan is a Diabetes Specialist Dietitian, looking at the benefits of the Trust going sugar free she said: “This will have substantial health benefits as consuming too many high-sugar beverages increases the risk of tooth decay, encourages a higher energy intake which may result in weight gain and also increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.”
Nearly 30 million teaspoons of sugar have now been removed nationally from NHS canteens, shops and vending machines as a result of the drive.
Published 01.11.2018 A.H