Sugary drinks will be banned from hospital canteens, shops and vending machines if trusts fail to take action to reduce sales, NHS England has said.

Almost two thirds of NHS trusts have already signed up to a voluntary scheme to slash sales of sugary soft drinks, milkshakes and hot drinks with added sugar syrups, to 10 per cent or less of all beverages sold.

But 91 trusts are yet to join the programme, and hospitals and suppliers have been warned a ban will be introduced next year if they don't take action to reduce sales by the end of March 2018.

Dietetics and catering teams at Dorset County Hospital (DCH) started changes to encourage consumption of non-sugary drinks before being notified of the NHS England scheme.

A spokesman for DCH said: "The catering department has reduced sugary drinks on sale in line with requirements – all cold beverages have been replaced with diet or ‘zero’ drinks and they have replaced their hot chocolate with a low-calorie product.

"They have also worked with their vending partners to reduce the sugary drinks available as above.

"Also the Friends of DCH shop is on board with the scheme as well."

NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: "It's important the NHS practices what it preaches on healthy food and drink.

"We want 2018 to be the year when the tasty, affordable and easy option for patients, staff and visitors is the healthy option.

"Many NHS hospitals have answered the call and are taking positive action."

Some 14 national suppliers, including WH Smith, Marks & Spencer and Greggs have signed up to the NHS voluntary scheme along with 141 of 232 trusts.

As reported, figures by Public Health England (PHE) revealed half the sugar consumed by children comes from unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks.

PHE warned that on average, children are consuming at least three unhealthy snacks and sugary drinks a day, with around a third consuming four or more. This means that children can easily consume three times more sugar than is recommended.

Its new Change4Life campaign encourages parents to “Look for 100 calorie snacks, 2 a day max,” to help them offer healthier snacks in a bid to tackle the obesity epidemic that is seeing a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese.