The Victorian government's initiative to improve the taste, enjoyment and health of food available in hospitals and aged care facilities provides a unique opportunity to improve health outcomes for patients, staff and visitors as well, according to Dr Heleen Roex-Haitjema, Director of Doctors for Nutrition.
The health promotion charity Doctors For Nutrition has welcomed the proposed audit which will result in new nutrition standards.
"Hospitals are an ideal place to introduce people to an evidence-based plant-based diet, which can significantly lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, colorectal cancer and other chronic conditions. This eating pattern is also healthier for the planet, which is a fundamental prerequisite to human health," said Dr Heleen Roex-Haitjema.
The Australian Medical Association's latest position statement on nutrition states that 'hospitals and other residential health care facilities should provide access to healthy foods, including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium and added sugars, as well as no and low sugar beverages' in order to improve the health of patients, staff and visitors.
"It is vital that health institutions offer nutritious plant-based meal options and eliminate processed meats from all menus," Dr Roex-Haitjema said.
Processed meats are a group one carcinogen and are inappropriate to be served in a healthcare setting according to the World Health Organisation.