The motion was put to the annual conference of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Edinburgh by cardiologist Dr Aseem Molhatra, who accused NHS managers of “selling sickness”.
He told the conference: “For too long, short term financial considerations of hospital management have taken precedence over the health of the community.
“The obesity epidemic represents a public health crisis, but it is a public health scandal that by legitimising junk food hospitals have themselves become a risk factor for diet related disease by perpetuating the revolving door of healthcare.
“It’s time to stop selling sickness in the hospital grounds.”
Dr Malhotra claims that the hospital environment legitimises junk food and increases consumption of it – in spite of public awareness of its health dangers.
“Patients in hospitals continue to be served disgraceful meals of poor nutritional value, slowing their recovery, lengthening their stay, and increasing costs,” he told Sky News.
“The fact that a half of the 1.4 million NHS employees are overweight or obese is a clear demonstration that education is ineffective when an unhealthy food environment in the workplace is working against you.”
The BMA now intends to lobby the Department of Health and the NHS Confederation to ban hospital junk food sales and to have health warnings displayed where it is on sale.
Already, however, it has been met with resistance from NHS management.
GP and NHS Confederation director of policy Dr Johnny Marshall told Sky News: “These brands and outlets help normalisation of the hospital environment, which is important for good patient experience.
“Many NHS trusts rent space to commercial outlets, providing a service that is highly valued by patients, their families and other hospital users.
Dr Marshall said that the majority of hospital shops also offer more healthy options such as fruit, smoothies, tea and coffee.
However, he added: “If a patient who has been in hospital a week wants a few mint imperials, or a parent wants to buy their child who has just had a broken arm reset some chocolate buttons, as a doctor I think that is absolutely fine.
“The key thing is that the NHS ensures there are easy ways for patients, staff and other users to make healthy choices”