Canada hospitals to cut junk food, add healthier choices

Nine hospital representatives have been working on a healthy foods strategy for about a year.

OTTAWA, Canada— Burgers, fries, chocolate bars and sugary desserts could disappear from hospital menus in Eastern Ontario over the next few years, muscled aside by more nutritious items.

Representatives from nine hospitals, including the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, the Queensway Carleton, the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic campus and CHEO, have been quietly working on a healthy foods strategy for about a year.

For now, the focus is on food sold in hospital cafeterias, vending machines, gift shops and franchises such as Tim Hortons, Subway and Second Cup.

Food audits have found that current offerings include high proportions of nutrient-poor snacks, baked goods, desserts and beverages, along with soups and entrees with high sodium contents. Deep frying and processed meats are prominent, portions are generally too big and whole grains are lacking.