In recent years, food waste has received great attention and is now considered the cause of many negative effects, including health, economic, social and environmental issues. A cross-sectional study was conducted among a sample of 762 inpatients at three hospitals of Campania region in Italy. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the amount of food waste occurring in these hospitals using a structured questionnaire and asking inpatients about the average percentage of food they had disposed of in the previous three days. The overall food wasted amounted to 41.6%. The main plates, first (pasta or rice), second plate (meat or fish), resulted in similar amounts of waste (38.5% and 39.7%, respectively). The side plate (vegetable or potatoes), however, generated the greatest amount of waste (55.0%); 40.7% of patients totally discarded this part of their meals. The type of food wastage among the three hospitals reflected similar patient behaviours, with the amount of food wasted never falling below 30%. Females tended to waste more food than males (59.1% vs. 38.2%; p = 0.000). Other variables were correlated with less food waste, such as having a good opinion of the food’s quality (RR = 1.91; 95% C.I. = 1.68–2.17) and satisfaction with the foodservice in general (RR = 1.86; 95% C.I. = 1.64–2.10). Poor quality, different eating habits and the feeling of satiety were the main reasons patients gave for food waste. Our study suggests that the most promising way to reduce food waste in hospitals is to improve the quality of meals and to establish an individual, simplified and flexible meal reservation process based on specific needs and preferences.
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