Issue addressed: Policy and environmental approaches can reduce the accessibility and purchasing of sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs), potentially reducing overweight and obesity. This study examined the impact of a state-wide policy on removal of SSBs from sale in NSW public hospitals (launched July 2017), and explored consumer awareness and support. Methods: A convenience sample of 81 food outlets in 26 hospitals were audited for SSB availability before and after the target date for SSB removal (31 December 2017). An interviewer-administered intercept survey in 10 randomly selected hospitals (March-May 2018), assessed staff and visitors’ awareness of and support for SSB removal. Descriptive and χ2 analyses assessed differences in: SSB availability; staff and visitor awareness and support. Open-ended survey responses were thematically analysed. Results: The proportion of outlets that removed SSBs increased from 58.0% to 96.3% (P <.001). The majority (79.5%) of the 2394 surveyed supported SSB removal, with nearly half (48.4%) reporting it would improve people's health. A minority (13.4%) did not support SSB removal, more than half (61.4%) of those said individuals should have free choice. More staff than visitors were aware of the change (61.9% vs 31.2%; P <.0001). Conclusions: Availability of SSBs in NSW hospitals was significantly reduced after implementation of a policy to remove them from sale. There was strong staff and visitor support for the initiative. So what?: This study provides clear evidence that a policy designed to provide a healthy hospital retail drink environment can be successfully implemented at scale with high levels of support from staff and visitors. Summary: A state-wide policy initiative to remove SSBs from sale in NSW hospital food outlets in 2017 was successfully implemented, with a sample of outlets having nearly 100% compliance. The majority of staff and visitors (80%) supported the removal of SSBs, mostly because they believed it would improve individual and population health.
- health policy
- healthy environments