Environmentally friendly health care food services: a survey of beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes.Can J Diet Pract Res. 2011 Fall; 72(3):117-22.CJ
There is increasing global interest in sustainability and the environment. A hospital/health care food service facility consumes large amounts of resources; therefore, efficiencies in operation can address sustainability. Beliefs, attitudes, and behaviours about environmentally friendly practices in hospital/health care food services were explored in this study.
Questionnaires addressed environmentally friendly initiatives in building and equipment, waste management, food, and non-food procurement issues. The 68 participants included hospital food service managers, clinical dietitians, dietary aides, food technicians, and senior management. Data analysis included correlation analysis and descriptive statistics.
Average scores for beliefs were high in building and equipment (90%), waste management (94%), and non-food procurement (87%), and lower in food-related initiatives (61%) such as buying locally, buying organic foods, buying sustainable fish products, and reducing animal proteins. Average positive scores for behaviours were positively correlated with beliefs (waste management, p=0.001; food, p=0.000; non-food procurement, p=0.002). Average positive scores for attitude in terms of implementing the initiatives in health care were 74% for building and equipment, 81% for waste management, 70% for non-food procurement, and 36% for food.
The difference in food-related beliefs, behaviours, and attitudes suggests the need for education on environmental impacts of food choices. Research is recommended to determine facilitators and barriers to the implementation of green strategies in health care. As food experts, dietitians can lead changes in education, practice, and policy development.