Minimum nutritional standards for catering in health and social care
Evidence has shown that a healthy balanced diet with adequate amounts of physical activity can help to maintain a healthy weight, and lower the risk of chronic diseases including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
The National Diet and Nutrition Survey (NDNS) data for Northern Ireland reveals that overall the population consumes too much saturated fat, added sugars and salt and not enough fruit, vegetables, oily fish or fibre compared with current Government recomendations. Worryingly, levels of obesity continue to rise, 60 per cent of adults and 25 per cent of children in Northern Ireland were overweight or obese in 2015.
The significant role of the workplace, and employers, in promoting healthier lifestyles and supporting staff to adopt and maintain better nutritional and other choices is increasingly recognised. As a major employer throughout the United Kingdom, the Health Service should promote and protect health and lead by setting an example to employers in both public and private sectors. In Northern Ireland there is much valuable work being done locally within Health and Social Care Trusts to promote healthier eating in the workplace and encourage appropriate lifestyle choices. Designing healthier menus, displaying calories on menus and implementing vending policies are some examples of this.
To further support this work, and in line with key objectives of the regional obesity prevention strategy A Fitter future for all 2012–2022, the Public Health Agency, Food Standards Agency and safefood together have developed minimum nutritional standards for catering in health and social care (HSC) settings in Northern Ireland. These standards support people working in Health Service catering businesses who want to offer consumers a choice of affordable, healthy and sustainable food.