Sunday 21 January 2018

HSE needs to learn the value of proper nutrition

Chips, sausage rolls, frozen pizzas . . . The list goes on . . . Potato waffles, chicken nuggets and 'cod' goujons which may contain as little as 50pc fish. Just the thing for a healthy youngster? Hardly. One-in-four Irish schoolchildren and teenagers is overweight or obese. As they grow older, they become more vulnerable to weight gain and eventually obesity. This is a huge concern for the health service and campaigners for a lifestyle that features exercise and good diet.

Yet the items listed above are frequently found on the menus of public hospitals and nursing homes run by the Health Service Executive. And that will continue. Over the next four years, the HSE plans to buy nearly 90 tonnes of frozen chips, 62,000 sausage rolls and other processed food for the patients.

The HSE claims that it has maintained high quality and nutritional standards. But the claim is disputed by experts in the field. One of them, Dr Donal O'Shea, says that "I've been horrified going into a coronary care unit and seeing patients served up with rasher, egg and chips", and calls the situation "farcical" in view of the fact that the Department of Health published two guides to healthy eating last year.

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