Hospital food can be improved only by legislationBMJ 2013; 347 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f7300 (Published 19 December 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;347:f7300
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Healthy eating is undoubtably important during recovery from illness and surgery: tissues need to heal and bodily strength to return. It should be remembered also that intake of food can provide opportunities for nourishment other than in the form of calories, protein and minerals: opportunities to take a break from 'duty' as a patient - to escape from the monotony and stress of the 'workplace', and opportunities for normal social interaction - for relaxing chatter and patter. Bedside meals, however appetising and nutritious, are less able to deliver these additional elements so vital to the return of independence and well-being. Perhaps many patients would be better served by being served elsewhere.
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Interestingly this article talks about adequate nutrition but commences by noting concerns with some hospitals’ sustainability policies. There are many hospitals that are providing a more positive experience based on the need to provide a healthy food experience based on the principles announced by Jeremy Hunt in 2012.
But this article is a useful reminder that food in hospitals has an important role to play in care and treatment of patients but also as role models for healthier lifestyle for patients, staff and visitors – something that the public and private sector should also play their part in terms of customers and staff.
Jenner welcomes Government Buying Standards for Food (1) which set clear criteria for food procurement and service and are a model for wider public and private sector catering. Scarborough et al (2) reported that in 2006-07, poor diet-related ill health cost the NHS in the UK £5.8 billion. Choosing lower salt, saturated fat and sugar ingredients and products will help the population live healthier lifestyles without having to change the kinds of meals they are choosing and would help reduce the cost to the NHS as a result of poor diet. Hospitals, like other public and private sector organisations, should play their role. Public Health England will shortly be publishing new guidance to help organisations choose, cook and serve healthier and more sustainable food. We are supplementing this guidance with 5 workshops across England and will be developing tools to support organisations and caterers meet the challenge of healthier and more sustainable catering. Importantly, we will be celebrating action from government, the wider public sector, universities) and others. For more information on these workshops see www.phe-events.org.uk/hmsclondon.
1 – Government Buying Standards for Food and Catering Services. http://sd.defra.gov.uk/2011/06/new-government-buying-standards-for-food-...
2 - Scarborough P et al. The economic burden of ill health due to diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol and obesity in the UK: an update to 2006-07 NHS costs.
J Public Health. 2011;33(4):527-35.
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In recent years, healthcare has become so complex, that it is almost incomprehensible. Many physicians have a hard time keeping up with their own specialty, let alone other specialties. There are 24 medical specialties and 88 sub-specialties. How can the average person choose or afford so much healthcare?
There are three kinds of healthcare: traditional medicine, alternative medicine, and complementary medicine. Complementary medicine (integrative medicine) combines traditional medicine with alternative medicine. All three kinds of healthcare use drugs.
Traditional medicine uses prescription drugs, such as antibiotics, tranquilizers, vaccines, and chemotherapy. Alternative medicine uses over-the-counter drugs, such as vitamins, minerals, herbs, and enzymes. Complementary medicine uses both prescription and over-the-counter drugs. So all healthcare uses drugs, and patients have no real alternatives.
Drugs are a mixed blessing. They prolong life, but they also shorten it. This is because drugs are toxins and addictions that fool and block the body’s biochemistry. This is why drugs have so many side effects and adverse reactions. In contrast, nutritious food that is free of toxins and addictions fuels and builds the body’s biochemistry. This is why food is live medicine, but medicine is dead food.
Competing interests: None relevant