Nutrition is the study of the influence that food intake has on the health and well-being of an individual. Today, food plays a significant role in modern lifestyle. The globalization of western diet based on excessive saturated fats, refined carbohydrates, protein and processed foods, along with increasingly sedentary lifestyles, are contributing to non-communicable diseases, infectious disease, epidemics in obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease in many countries. At present, the importance of nutrition as a scientific discipline has not become to the priority attention of medical professionals and the general public in Indonesia.
“Many low- and middle-income countries are now facing a ‘double burden’ of disease. While they continue to deal with the problems of infectious disease and under-nutrition, they are experiencing a rapid upsurge in noncommunicable disease risk factors such as obesity and overweight, particularly in urban settings.
This trend of growing obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease increases the global demand for resource-intensive therapies, and therefore increases both healthcare costs and the health sector’s environmental footprint as it expends more energy and resources to treat these diseases.
Health-care facilities can reduce their climate footprint and improve patient health by making changes in hospital service menus and practices, including limiting the amount of meat in hospital meals, producing their food onsite, composting food waste, and buying local and organic produce – thereby promoting local, sustainable production.
By promoting and supporting nutritious, Localized sustainable food systems, hospitals can both reduce their immediate footprint while supporting food access and nutrition, thereby helping to foster the prevention of disease, a reduction in the health sector’s environmental health impacts and contributing to a longer-term reduction in the population’s need for healthcare. Such an approach can also help to create stable and growing markets for sustainable, locally grown food outside the health care sector.
Hospital Solution and Actions1:
- Modify hospital menus and practices to support healthier food purchases by buying locally produced and organic produce.
- Make the hospital a “fast food free zone”; eliminate sugar-based soft drinks in hospital cafeterias and vending machines.
- Work with local farmers, community-based organizations, and food suppliers to increase the availability of locally sourced, sustainably grown food.
- Encourage vendors and food management companies to supply food that is produced with- out synthetic pesticides and hormones or antibiotics are given to animals in the absence of diagnosed disease, and which supports farmer and farm worker health and welfare, as well as ecologically protective and restorative agriculture.
- Implement a step-by-step program to identify and adopt sustainable food procurement. Begin where minimal barriers exist and immediate steps can be taken, for example, by introducing organic fresh fruit in the cafeteria.
- Educate and communicate within the hospital or health care system, as well as to patients and community, about nutritious, socially equitable and ecologically sustainable food practices and procedures.
- Minimize and beneficially reuse food waste. For instance, compost food waste or use it as animal feed. Convert cooking oil waste into biofuel.
- Make the hospital a center that promotes nutrition and healthy food by holding farmers’ markets for the surrounding community and fostering community gardens on hospital grounds.
The Hospital was provided sustainably grown local food for staff and patients.
- USA: St Luke’s Hospital, Duluth, Minnesota2.
This comprehensive care hospital admits over 12,000 patients a year and treats close to 400,000 more in its many clinics. Over the last decade, St. Luke’s has taken steps to make the food it serves to patients, staff and visitors increasingly fresh and sustainable while launching a program to divert food waste and provide for the local community. Food service staff purchase produces from the local farmers’ market and buys products from local vendors, thus reducing emissions from transportation. Since 2003, the hospital has partnered with the group Second Harvest to donate excess food from the hospital kitchen to local families, instead of simply throwing it away. Every day, extra food is labeled and frozen for distribution to local food banks and soup kitchens, providing about 1000 meals a year. The hospital composts almost 40,000 pounds of food waste every year, thus removing it from the waste stream and reducing emissions.
- United Kingdom: Ealing General, Lambeth Hospital, St. George’s Hospital and the Royal Brompton Hospital, London, England2.
These four NHS (The National Health Services in England) hospitals are participating to boost the amount of local and organic food they serve by 10%. The NHS calculates that it spends about 500 million pounds on food to serve 300 million meals in 1200 hospitals each year, so increasing the amount of its local and organic food offered can have a tremendous impact. As part of its effort to reduce its climate footprint, the NHS has also proposed offering fewer meat and dairy products on its menus.
- Global Green and Healthy Hospitals. A Comperhensive Environmental Health Agenda for Hospitals and Health Systems Around the Wolrd.
- Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Planets, Healthy People. Addressing Climate Change in Health-Care Settings. World Health Organization. 2008