A recent audit of food and drink services provided at WA Health facilities has shown a significant improvement in compliance with the Healthy Options WA Food and Nutrition Policy, which aims to support and model healthy eating options in healthcare environments.
The policy applies a ‘traffic light’ system to classify food and drinks into green (for most healthy options), amber and red (for least healthy options). Under the policy:
- At least 50 per cent of all food and drink on offer and on display must be classified as green;
- No more than 20 per cent may be classified as red; and
- Only green food and drinks may be promoted and the use of red items for fundraising, events and prizes is not permitted.
The audit of 215 food providers was conducted across 25 WA Health system sites, including 156 vending machines, 52 cafés, kiosks and canteens and seven ward trolleys.
Among the results of the audit:
- Overall, 47 per cent of the audited food providers were compliant; and
- Fremantle Hospital was the most compliant achieving 81 per cent compliance, followed by Bentley Hospital with 78 per cent.
Many facilities have made positive changes to their food and drink services since the last audit in 2016, particularly among WA Health-operated canteens, cafés and kiosks, where there has been a 47 per cent increase in compliance.
The majority of food and drink outlets (82.7 per cent) met the policy requirement to only promote green items, including 98.6 per cent of vending machines.
Since the audit results were released to the facilities, Health Service Providers have continued to provide targeted support to outlet managers and vending machine suppliers.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“Around a third of health impacts from chronic diseases could be prevented by encouraging and supporting changes in lifestyle such as better nutrition and regular exercise.
“Hospitals should be the exemplars of our healthy eating policy, this does not mean banning unhealthy food and denying the sale of treats, but they should offer choices that support healthy living.
“We also want to enable people that visit our health system to maintain a healthier lifestyle. We want to avoid situations where a person has no choice but to choose an unhealthy food or drink.
“While hospitals are yet to reach full compliance with the policy, further work has been undertaken since the audit, and each site has been provided with specific feedback to continue improvement in policy compliance.”