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Vending machines in hospitals – are they healthy?

Samantha Kibblewhite (Department of Child Health, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK)
Sue Bowker (Health Improvement Division, Department for Public Health and Health Professions, Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff, UK)
Huw R. Jenkins (Department of Child Health, University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 9 February 2010

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Abstract

Purpose

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.

Design/methodology/approach

Questionnaires are completed by staff in the Department of Child Health in each NHS Trust in Wales. This paper summarises the results.

Findings

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.

Research limitations/implications

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.

Practical implications

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.

Originality/value

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.

Keywords

Citation

Kibblewhite, S., Bowker, S. and Jenkins, H.R. (2010), "Vending machines in hospitals – are they healthy?", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 40 No. 1, pp. 26-28. https://doi.org/10.1108/00346651011015881

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited