The NHS has been criticised for fuelling obesity levels after an investigation revealed hospitals house dozens of fast food restaurants and coffee shops.

The investigation found 92 branches of Costa Coffee existed among the 160 NHS Trust sites, along with other chains such as Subway and Greggs.

A leading cardiologist said that allowing such companies to operate from NHS premises was damaging the health of staff, patients and visitors.

Simon Stevens, head of NHS England, urged that they would take ‘hard-nosed action’ to end the sale of junk food in hospitals and help reduce obesity levels.

Costa Coffee has recently come under fire from the media for selling drinks that contain four times the recommended sugar limits. The brand is the most abundant in NHS premises by far, totalling 92 branches, the next common being WH Smith, with 32 sites.

Dr Aseem Malhotra, a cardiologist and science director of Action on Sugar, told The Telegraph: “What is going on is really obscene. The NHS needs to get its house in order, because this sends out entirely the wrong message. Hospitals should be a place of healing, but instead they are selling sickness.”

A spokesman for Costa Coffee said: “In order for customers to make an informed choice about what they eat and drink, Costa always labels packaged products clearly and all nutritional information on these and on other products are readily available for the customer either online or in-store.”