• Replacing sugary snacks with fruit, nuts and seeds at nurses’ stations within a UK oncology unit: a pilot intervention study

      Thomas, Robert; Williams, Madeleine; Smit, Graham; Chater, Angel M.; Bedford Hospital NHS Trust; University of Bedfordshire (2021-02-02)
      Aim - This real-world service intervention study evaluated NHS staff weight and subjective happiness over a three-month period, by replacing processed, sugary foodstuffs with fruit, nuts and seeds. Method - Forty four staff at the Primrose Oncology Unit, Bedford Hospital, volunteered to abstain from cakes, biscuits, sweets, sugary drinks and chocolates whilst at work between June 2019 and September 2019. Participants’ weight and subjective happiness scores were recorded at baseline, three months (completion) and five months (post-completion). Fresh and dried fruit, and bags of raw nuts and seeds were made available to all staff (including those not participating). Participants resumed their usual diet outside of working hours. One hundred consecutive patients attending the department during the intervention were asked whether removing sugary food from public view was a positive move and whether it would have a likely influence on their future eating habits. Results - At five months, twenty (46%) participants lost weight >1kg (average 3.01 kg), seven participants gained >1kg (average 2.23 kg), and 17 remained the same weight (T-test p< 0.03). Average happiness score increased from 21.65 to 23.44 (+6.6%), T-test p< 0.04). Amongst those who lost >1kg weight, average happiness score increased from 21.54 to 23.75 (+9.3%), p<0.03. In those who gained >1 kg weight, average happiness score decreased from 22.28 to 21.43 (-3.8%), p< 0.08. There was a 13.1% difference in the happiness score in those loosing >1kg compared to those gaining >1kg in weight p< 0.001). 94 (94%) patients indicated that this initiative gave a good impression and ninety seven (97%) indicated that the initiative would encourage them to reduce sugar in their own diet. Conclusion - The results demonstrated a statistically significant reduction in weight loss and increase in mood in just under half of the participants. Whilst this level of weight loss was similar to the best designed weight loss programmes, a larger study is required to validate these results.