News Better Hospital Food

Obesity-related hospital admissions rise by 18 per cent

There were 617,000 hospital admissions where obesity was listed as a primary or secondary diagnosis in 2016-17. This is 18 per cent more than the 524,725 admitted in 2015-16, according to the NHS Digital data released yesterday. Read the response from the Campaign for Better Hospital Food.


The number of obesity-related hospital admissions has more than doubled in the last four years. There were almost 617,000 appointments in 2016-17 where obesity was either a primary or secondary diagnosis, that’s risen sharply from 292,000 in 2012-13.

Katherine Button, Coordinator of the Campaign for Better Hospital Food, said:

“This is the canary in the coal mine of our public health. Obesity and diet related disease have reached epidemic proportions, and the NHS is left to pick up the tab.

“The NHS is a trusted authority on health and well-being, so all food served on NHS premises must help patients, NHS staff and visitors to improve their health and live and eat well – hospital is no place for burgers, super-sized confectionery and sugary drinks. Good food is seriously important to our health, so hospital food standards should be set down in law, on the same legal basis as school food standards, to ensure hospitals must meet minimum standards for the food served to patients, staff and visitors. These standards should be independently monitored and enforced.”

“As an immediate step, NHS England must take action and ban the sale of sugary drinks in hospitals, and make sure healthy, sustainably alternatives are available and affordable.”

New figures indicate that NHS England’s work to limit the sale of chocolate and unhealthy sandwiches had a very positive impact on healthy eating in hospitals. The data suggests that hospital staff, patients and visitors consumed 632 million fewer calories over the last year in response to these measures. This shows that changing the sorts of foods and drinks on sale in hospitals really can positively benefit healthier eating.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England said:

“We now know that obesity causes 13 different types of cancer as well as heart attacks and strokes, so the NHS has needed to get its own house in order on the epidemic of flab. Once the Easter eggs are gone, the NHS will be getting on with ensuring our hospitals and their retailers are offering healthier food and drinks for patients, relatives and staff.”

The Campaign for Better Hospital Food supports NHS England’s crucial efforts – last year NHS England ordered hospitals to take super-size chocolate bars and “grab bags” of sugary snacks off shelves and this resulted in 175,000 more pieces of fruit being sold in hospitals. But more must be done.

The statistics highlight the huge scale of the country’s obesity epidemic. Around nine out of 10 people with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes which is closely linked to obesity and there is strong evidence that it is preventable. Diabetes and its complications cost over £6 billion every year to treat and one in six patients in hospital has diabetes, adding to the pressure already facing cash-strapped hospitals and overworked NHS staff.



Published 5 Apr 2018

Better Hospital Food: The campaign represents a coalition of organisations calling on the Westminster government to introduce mandatory nutritional, environmental and ethical standards for food served to patients in NHS hospitals in England.

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