Intended for healthcare professionals

Letters Banning junk food in hospitals

It’s time to ban obesity in NHS employees

BMJ 2013; 347 doi: (Published 23 July 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4646
  1. Francois L P Fouin, retired general practitioner1
  1. 1Aberdeen AB13, UK
  1. fouin_4{at}

There is so much talk about carrot and stick being applied to the obesity epidemic1 but no one seems to have the courage to discuss the telling deterrent: employment.

If indeed half of NHS employees are overweight or obese it is a national disgrace where we would expect an example to be set.

Only when people are aware that obesity will affect their employment possibilities will many take their problem seriously. Already I hear cries of unfair discrimination, but recruitment to the armed forces and the police considers physique, and it is in the long term interests of obese people as well as setting an example to the rest of us.

Harsh realities such as a lack of enough candidates for NHS posts makes such a policy difficult to implement, but a general directive at least advising would-be recruits not to be, say, more than 10% above average weight, except in exceptional circumstances, would be a start.

How to deal with those in post should also become a priority, with targets (not more) for individual hospitals to raise their status among their peers.

Once such a policy gained acceptance in the NHS, other organisations should catch on. Current evidence all around us and especially in hospitals is that the epidemic is out of control and that milk and water proposals are useless when people live for the day and the future with all its complications is way out of sight.


Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f4646


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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