Children receiving hospital treatment are being served meals with ‘shocking’ amounts of salt, sugar and saturated fat.
Many senior doctors are now calling for minimal nutritional standards to be introduced into the NHS following the study results. These would match the standards now required for school meals, which were introduced after the TV series, Jamie’s School Dinners.
The study, carried out by Consensus Action on Salt (CASH), tested 451 main meals, snacks and desserts served to children in hospitals in England and the findings were very worrying. They found:
- Almost half of the main meals contained too much salt, to be acceptable for dishing up in schools.
- Under the supermarket traffic light system, 30% of the 451 dishes would be classed as ‘red’. This means the dishes have levels of an ingredient type such as sugar or salt, which we should only eat in limited amounts.
- A lasagne had six times more salt than one served in a school canteen.
- A pizza had 50% more salt and a sticky toffee pudding had 50% more sugar than allowed in a school meal.
Professor Terence Stephenson, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child health, commented:
“I'm perplexed that these meals intended for children contain far more salt, sugar and saturated fat than would be allowed in our schools... If we have a standard that we think is right for children in schools, then it must be even more right for children who are in hospital, because we want to promote good health as well as treating illness. The health service should not be lagging behind the education system in this."
The study was conducted across three main hospital food suppliers, Apetitio, Anglia Crown and MediRest. The identities of the hospitals were not disclosed.
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