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Healthier food cheaper at hospitals

  Wednesday, 01 l 12 l 2010 Source:  The Straits Times   
By: Poon Chian Hui

SOME public hospitals are leading the way in offering healthy hawker fare. One can get brown rice, low-fat milk and purple wheat noodles at no extra cost, or even at discounted rates, at the food courts there. At Singapore General Hospital, steamed chicken brown rice goes for 40 cents cheaper than the regular white rice version at its food court, and brown rice and vermicelli are 40 cents cheaper than white rice and vermicelli.  

At KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH), brown rice and vermicelli are offered at the food court at no extra cost. The same goes for purple wheat noodles at the Japanese stall and toasted oats instead of peanuts in popiah.  

Tan Tock Seng Hospital has vending machines dispensing low-sugar and sugar-free drinks, while National University Hospital will be placing stickers on healthier food options at its food court stalls. Dr Grace Soon, a nutritionist and acting deputy director of the nutrition department at the Health Promotion Board (HPB), said some hospitals began pricing brown rice, wholegrain products and healthier drinks more attractively in July this year.  

Meanwhile, the food court at KKH, which like the others is open to the public, is increasing the serving size of vegetables, educating customers on the fat and calorie content of garnishes like fried anchovies and shallots, as well as offering low-fat milk in drinks and desserts. The response has been encouraging, said KKH’s chief dietitian Christine Ong.  

Studies done last October and November showed that 15 per cent of customers at the food courts at KKH opted for healthier fare. Beyond food courts, food outlets at the hospitals, such as O’Briens Irish Sandwich Bar and Mr Bean, are also being encouraged to get themselves certified under the HPB’s healthier restaurant programme, where they offer healthier food items on their menus.

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