Eat well, stay well

What patients think about more sustainable food choices when in NHS care

Green and red apple

Our Research

Over 800 patients across Sussex and Surrey were asked what they thought about the NHS making changes to the food provided at healthcare sites to help reduce its carbon footprint.

This included asking about using less plastic in packaging and more locally sourced produce to reducing meat options and increasing plant-based options.

“I am a vegan and I think this should already be a thing. I don’t think they should be getting rid of all meat, but I think they should be thinking about how nutritious the meals are” Surrey based research respondent.

Older participants 55+ were less likely than younger to agree with providing low carbon vegetarian/plant based and less carbon intensive meats, which is useful to know for our patient demographic.

What does that mean for healthcare providers?

Food is a personal issue and people want to be able to make their own choices; however we also need to be able to make changes to the food we offer that will enhance wellbeing without impacting so much on the environment.

There is a clear link between food and health which our patients recognise (e.g. obesity, diabetes) and good, healthy food has many positive associations so we are able to build on this positive perception.

We can begin to offer people more choice in sustainable alternatives, and information about the benefits of making those choices to help guide their decisions.

The overwhelming desire (93% of respondents) to see less plastic in food at healthcare sites also supports a move away from more unhealthy processed foods to locally sourced, freshly prepared alternatives.

Where do we go from here?

Our Green Plan sets out our actions for reducing our carbon emissions in relation to food at healthcare sites, read the Wellbeing section to find out how.

In bringing the ‘Healthier Lives’ sustainable healthcare principle to your work you can also help us create changes in how we deliver care and support our patients in making informed choices about the food they eat.