*(L-R) Emma Balmaine, CEO, Irish Heart Foundation, David Gillick, Olympian and Sports Broadcaster and Sarah O’Brien, Programme Manager, Healthy Eating Active Living Programme, HSE at the Irish Heart Foundation and HSE Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards.
A BRONZE award was won by the catering team at Ennis Hospital.
In total, 21 healthcare facilities across Ireland, providing healthier meals for almost 18,000 health service employees, were honoured this year at the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards for their commitment to healthy food choices.
Fifteen units across the country achieved gold awards for creating a healthier food environment.
Two sites received silver awards for their meal choices, while four, including Ennis General Hospital, were bronze winners.
The Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards have been running for over 25 years, and are a joint initiative of the Irish Heart Foundation and the HSE.
At the awards ceremony, which took place on November 28 at the Gibson Hotel, Dublin, Irish Heart Foundation CEO, Emma Balmaine stated, “The Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award programme has been the flagship of our health promotion initiatives for several decades now which we have been able to develop with support from the HSE. It provides a comprehensive range of individual and environmental approaches to promote healthier choices and behaviours.
“Healthcare workplaces are ideal settings to promote healthy eating because many people eat one if not two meals per day at work. The World Health Organisation identifies the workplace as one of the best places to positively influence people’s cardiovascular risk through encouraging and promoting healthy eating and other healthy behaviours,” she added.
Studies show that a healthy and balanced diet and an active lifestyle help reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
These chronic conditions, and indeed our food choices, are strongly shaped by wider determinants of health such as our food environment.
With the number of people eating outside of the home on the rise, healthcare sites in Co Clare which prepare hot food for staff and visitors are encouraged to get involved in the awards programme and increase the healthy offerings on their menus. The criteria for the awards include limiting the availability of foods and drinks high in saturated fat, salt and sugar, monitoring portion sizes and promoting the availability of high-fibre foods, healthier counter display and vending machine contents.
“Our staff in the HSE are our most valuable resource – supporting their health and wellbeing in the workplace is a key priority for us in the Health Services,” said Sarah O’Brien, National Lead for the Healthy Eating Active Living programme in the HSE.
“Creating a healthier food environment and providing healthier options at mealtimes supports our staff to make the healthy choice the easy choice. The awards recognise the hard work and dedication to quality improvement and those sites that are committed to prioritising the development of environments that support healthy eating”.