HEALTHY MEAL: There'll be less emphasis on chocolates and soft drinks at Gympie Hospital.
HEALTHY MEAL: There'll be less emphasis on chocolates and soft drinks at Gympie Hospital. Tanya Easterby

The plan to take the fizz out of your hospital food

THE humble hospital vending machine has proven to be the unsung hero for many patients facing a long wait in emergency.

But the promise of a late-night sugar hit at Gympie Hospital may eventually become a rarity, with Queensland Health looking to make a major shake-up in what food will be provided.

"Healthcare facilities play an important role in promoting the health and well-being of patients, staff and visitors," reads the introduction to the Health Department's best practice guide for healthier drinks.

"There is growing consumer demand for healthy drinks and food - industry is responding to this by launching healthier products and innovative vending solutions."

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The contents of vending machines may look different in the future. Contributed

Vending machines, once the happy home of soft drinks, chocolate bars and potato chips, may look radically different - with a greater emphasis on healthier options, including water, unflavoured milk, fruit and vegetable juices and some hot drinks.

The best practice guide also recommends "less-healthy drinks should not to be promoted or advertised on vending machines".

The Gympie Region has a well-documented problem with obesity, and it appears a greater emphasis will be made on healthier options for patients and visitors.

"Facilities within Sunshine Coast Hospital and Health Service adhere to Queensland Health's A Better Choice Strategy by providing a range of food options for patients, visitors and staff," a spokeswoman said.

"In line with this strategy, healthy foods are more prominently displayed in vending machines and food retail outlets than less healthy options."

Caboolture Hospital, situated in an area with it's own obesity issues, has gone the extra step and outright banned sugary soft drinks, sports drinks and energy drinks from their vending machines and canteens.

The recommendations of best practice delivered by Queensland Health aren't considered mandatory, with much of the choice coming from separate hospital administrators.

So while this doesn't mean the end of a can of soft drink and a bag of lollies during your hospital wait, officials are hoping you'll consider reaching for a fruit juice instead.

"This is intended to promote a more healthy choice for our patients, visitors and staff," the spokeswoman said.

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