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Children's hospital bans sale of sweets

CRUMLIN hospital has taken the lead on Health Minister James Reilly's plan to cut back on children's sugar intake.

The hospital has introduced a ban on sweets and soft drinks being stocked on 'tuck shop' ward trolleys.

The initiative was called for by consultant dental surgeons, who had concerns that the fatty, high-sugar foods were "nearly wired directly" to patients' beds.

Calls for the ban were first made in a formal letter by a group of consultant dental surgeons at the hospital to senior management.

They said providing unhealthy treats to ill children "went against the core values of the hospital".

It was also putting a financial burden on families.

The issue was then discussed at the medical board meeting in March and the board recommended plans to take sweets and other sugary treats off the ward trolleys and to reduce their availability in the main shop in the hospital.

Our Lady's Hospital, in Crumlin, has been to the fore in healthy living promotions over the years and introduced a total smoking ban in the grounds in 2003 before the then Health Minister, Micheal Martin, enforced the workplace ban.

The move by the Crumlin hospital comes as Dr Reilly pushes for a tax on fizzy drinks and other sugar-laden foods, particularly those aimed at children.

The Crumlin decision has come in for criticism because the hospital takes funding from McDonald's and Kellogg's.

The Ronald McDonald House allows parents and relatives of seriously ill children to stay close to the house and Kellogg's cereal company sponsors the Fun Faise for Kids fundraising campaigns.

Dr Reilly has not yet announced how large any sugar tax would be.