Junk food and fizzy drinks will be banned from hospital vending machines following a landmark decision by the Welsh Assembly Government.

The move will also see other food providers in Welsh hospitals, such as the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service, encouraged to stock healthier options.

Almost 20% of 13-year-old children in Wales are overweight or obese – the highest in the UK and one of the highest in the world. Six out of 10 men and five out ten women in Wales are also either overweight or obese.

Pilot schemes will also run in leisure centres across Wales to provide healthier food and drinks in vending machines, instead of crisps and chocolate.

My instant reaction to the decision was that it was a simple, common sense solution to a problem.

Then I noted to comment of Chris Cheyette, a specialist dietician, who said: “It is important that the NHS does promote health and wellbeing and is seen to promote healthy foods. Vending machines should offer healthy options, but should we be taking away people’s right to choice?”

So is this common sense or yet another move along the road to a nanny state?

I’ll stick with my initial reaction and applaud the Assembly’s move.

It might cause some consternation amongst those who believe we are being molly-coddled by government. Equally, it might ruffle a few feathers in the food vending industry which now has to come up with healthier products to place in machines.

But it makes sense that those attempting to promote a healthier lifestyle – such as hospitals and leisure centres – should practice what they preach.

People will still have a choice, they can go and get their junk elsewhere – there are plenty of other places willing to feed their need.

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