Hamilton’s Western District Health Service is going ‘green’ and will only sell healthy food at its cafeteria in a bid to reduce obesity and associated diseases.
The sale of fatty and sweet foods will be banned in favour of ‘green traffic light’ foods from Thursday.
Under the Victorian Healthy Choices guidelines, ‘green’ foods are the healthiest choices, ‘amber’ foods should be eaten in moderation and ‘red’ foods should be consumed rarely.
WDHS chief executive Rohan Fitzgerald said it was transitioning from a menu that was high in ‘red’ and ‘amber’ foods to one that was 100 per cent green.
He said the usual Friday menu contained 82 per cent ‘red’ and ‘amber’ foods but that will change this week.
Mr Fitzgerald said obesity rates in the region had been a motivation to make the change.
According to Primary Health Network data it is estimated that 70 per cent of adults in Western Victoria are overweight or obese.
Mr Fitzgerald said that WDHS wanted to set an example for the community.
He hopes its ‘green’ cafeteria can influence not just other hospitals but commercial organisations, cafes and restaurants.
Mr Fitzgerald said the reasons for the revamped menu go beyond obesity.
“It’s not just about obesity – excess weight increases the likelihood of developing cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, cancer, and stroke; which are all killers in their own right,” he said.
“Current interventions and guidelines are having little impact and fast food chains and food manufacturers continue to produce a never-ending stream of lucrative products that are killing Australians and creating a huge burden on our healthcare system.”
WDHS has built up to the change trialing menu items and modifying more than 150 recipes.
Head of WDHS food services John Hedley said staff and visitors were enjoying the change.
“We’ve been gradually moving away from traditional cafeteria fare, fine-tuning and trialling recipes for months,” Mr Hedley said.
“There’s quite a lot of scope within the ‘green’ guidelines to create delicious, fresh, healthy food and we’ve had great feedback.”
WDHS stopped selling sugary drinks in 2015 and was the first hospital in Australia to do so.