Food, inglorious food: how hospital food is bad for patients
On my first clinical placement I encountered the National Health Service sausage hotpot, typical of a meal served thousands of times each week to patients throughout the United Kingdom: an orange lake of dehydrated sausages embedded in mashed potato. One junior doctor smiled at my fascination with the cuisine, “I hope your cat hasn’t gone missing.” Fortunately she hadn’t, but it turned out that the term “mystery meat” was used affectionately by doctors at the hospital.
Poor quality food is deeply entrenched in the NHS. As my clinical experience grew, so did my dependence on canteen chips and beans. Hospital shops swell with junk food, and vending machines line corridors, seeming to bear the weight of the building above.
Poor nutrition is one reason for a rampant explosion of obesity, with all its associated comorbidities, and having our hospitals lead by example has not been more important since the stigmatisation