Obesity fight sees lollies banned at hospital

MIKE MATHER
Last updated 05:00 30/05/2014
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There is to be no spoonful of sugar with the medicine at Waikato Hospital.

Sweets will be banned from its vending machines around the campus from July 1.

The Waikato District Health Board approved more stringent guidelines for the machines at its meeting on Wednesday.

It is a move that is hoped will help in the battle against obesity.

Half of the food in each machine needs to be stocked with "healthier choices" such as nuts and dried fruit. The other half of the device will be filled with small snacks such as biscuits.

Meanwhile, all of the drink vending machines will only stock water, artificially sweetened drink and "small sized juices".

The board heard the new guidelines had been pioneered by the Waitemata District Health Board, where they were proving a success.

The changes prompted an animated discussion around the board table, with members debating which snacks and drinks should be omitted from the vending machines.

Greta Shirley said the board needed to be mindful that some people needed sugar.

"We can't get rid of it all."

The board was told that while artificial sweeteners were less likely to contribute to people's weight, they contained acid that could still cause tooth decay.

Crystal Beavis noted that small juices were helpful for sufferers of type 1 diabetes, because they contained enough sugar to alleviate sudden drops in blood sugar levels.

Martin Gallagher said the changes to what was stocked in the machines would soon be accepted and it would likely not be long before the wider community followed suit.

"It's like smoking in pubs. I think we are making a good start.

"This is just like the fluoride issue. It's about what's good for the public's health," Gallagher said.

"It's about prolonging lives and potentially saving lives."

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