A healthy, balanced and nutritious diet for children and young people is essential for normal growth and development. Vending machines can be a source of food and drink high in fat, sugar and salt, and can undermine healthy eating messages. The purpose of this paper is to examine the contents of vending machines available in the vicinity of paediatric wards and paediatric out‐patient departments in hospitals in Wales.
Questionnaires are completed by staff in the Department of Child Health in each NHS Trust in Wales. This paper summarises the results.
Most vending machines found in the vicinity of paediatric wards and paediatric out‐patient departments in hospitals in Wales contain a majority of foods high in fat salt and sugar. Only a few contain over 50 per cent of drinks classified as healthy.
There is no universally agreed definition of healthy food as related to individual products. This study looks at the availability of foods and drinks classified as “unhealthy” but does not look at the overall diet of the children in the ward.
The results of this study should encourage NHS Trusts to consider the contents of vending machines in the vicinity of paediatric wards and paediatric out‐patient departments in hospitals.
There is much rhetoric around the potential of vending machines to contribute to an unhealthy diet. This is the first paper to identify specific problems with hospital vending machines.
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