21 healthcare sites awarded a Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award

By Leanne Dempsey Nutrition News   |   4th Dec 2023

Last week, 21 healthcare sites were honoured with a Happy Heart Healthy Eating Award for their commitment to promoting and offering healthy food choices and prioritising the development of environments that support healthy eating.

At the award ceremony in the Gibson Hotel, Dublin, 15 achieved gold status for creating a healthier food environment, two received silver awards and four received bronze.

The Irish Heart Foundation and the HSE have been working together to create healthier work environments in healthcare settings for over 25 years. In total, 51 sites currently hold awards, supporting the health of almost 45,000 healthcare staff. The awards programme continues to grow and together the two organisations are working to increase the number of sites achieving gold status.

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.

With the number of people eating outside of the home on the rise, healthcare sites who prepare hot food for staff and visitors on-site are encouraged to get involved in the awards programme and join other HSE hospitals, workplaces, nursing homes and community and disability services healthcare sites, in increasing the healthy offerings on their menus and improving the food environment.

Participating in the awards programme for the first time, two sites – Nenagh Hospital and Q Café company, which provides meals at St Patrick’s Mental Health Services – won gold awards for their units; huge achievements in their first year of taking part.

Speaking at the awards ceremony, Chief Executive of the Irish Heart Foundation, Emma Balmaine, congratulated the award winners.

"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."

Emma Balmaine, CEO, Irish Heart Foundation

“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,” said Emma.

Sarah O’Brien, National Lead for the Healthy Eating Active Living programme in the HSE, said: “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.

“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.”

Sarah O’Brien, National Lead for the Healthy Eating Active Living programme in the HSE

Irish Olympian and healthy eating advocate David Gillick also addressed attendees, and gave a talk titled ‘Running from Uncertainty’.

To find out more about the Happy Heart Healthy Eating Awards, and how to enter, visit here or the HSE website.


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