Hospital snack trolleys in Cardiff go healthy

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board are the very first Health Board in Wales to implement radical changes to its patient trolley service, ensuring that 75% of the snacks and drinks on offer are classed as healthy.

Traditionally, patient trolleys offer chocolates, crisps and sweets: snacks that are typically very high in fat and sugar.

However, thanks to the tireless efforts of the Royal Voluntary Service and their volunteers who run the trolley service at the University Hospital of Wales, the health board can ensure that the thousands of patients they visit each week have unrestricted access to healthy snacks.

We hope that this will encourage patients who are staying in to choose healthy and nutritious food and drink options in order to improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Healthy products are defined as those that are predominantly low in sugar and fat, based on the Food Standards Agency’s traffic light system.

As delicious as it may be, this doesn’t mean that the trolley will only offer celery! Examples of the kinds of changes the volunteers have made include swapping deep-fried crisps for baked varieties, which contain much less fat.

Ensuring 75% of the snacks and drinks available on the trolley service are classed as healthy is part of a Health Board policy which requies all Health Board run outlets to also make the healthy choice the easy choice.

Dr Sharon Hopkins, Executive Director of Public Health for the Cardiff and Vale University Health Board said, “As a Health Board, we do much more than providing patient centred care. Our mission is to care for people but also to keeping them well.

“As a nation we are eating less fruit and vegetables and more energy-rich foods high in fats, sugar and salt than ever before. It is more important than ever that we make sure our patients, staff and visitors have easy access to healthy, affordable, nutritious food and that the healthy choice is the easy choice.

“We know that a large number of the adult population of Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan are classified as overweight or obese. To address this problem, we require a true cultural change with the ultimate goal of changing how people think about and approach food on a day-to-day basis.

“Swapping a few snacks on a trolley may seem like a small action at first glance but in reality, it is a hugely significant step in improving patient and population health. I would like to take this opportunity to thank their volunteers who have all really stepped up to help the health board achieve its vision of making healthy snacks more available, thereby making them the norm.