New plans being considered by the NHS will include telling overweight doctors and nurses to slim down as a means of setting a good example to patients.
The chief executive at NHS England, Simon Stevens, said burgers and chips will be replaced for healthier options in hospital canteens.
It is estimated that around 700000 of the 1.3m NHS staff are either overweight or obese. To help staff lose weight, more gyms will be built and NHS sites will become more cycle-friendly. Prizes such as pedometers will be handed to those who lose weight.
Mr Stevens said the increase in obesity rates is not only bad for health generally, but is bad for the NHS and tacking this problem would eliminate financial pressure.
Recent figures indicate that almost 75% of people in the UK, between the ages of 45 and 74, are overweight or obese. According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, young adults are the only age group who indicate a normal average body mass index.
The NHS is currently facing a financial crisis and senior officers have said that the service requires an additional £30bn by 2020 if it hopes to maintain its current service level. Stevens said it is very difficult for the NHS to discuss this problem if they do not get their own house in order. He is of the opinion that the NHS should help their own staff and this may prompt other employers to do the same.
He said that a lot of the food served in hospital canteens, not only for patients, but for staff as well, consists of burgers and chips. He would like to see the NHS offer incentives for its staff and there are some hospitals that have already started doing so.
Stevens is asking parents to swop fizzy drinks and juices at meal times for milk or water.
Stevens said that in the future technology progress will keep patients out of hospital as people start living longer and he wanted to establish better partnership between social services and the NHS. He said the NHS has to support those doing a great job, but it also needs to raise its game.
Mr Stevens has called for thousands more doctors to receive training and for them to have a say in how NHS money is used.
Image Credit: Walt Stoneburner