In a recent interview with Neil Cavuto from Fox News I shared my support for the removal of McDonald’s restaurants from a number of hospital cafeterias. Click here to see the full interview on Fox’s website. Here are a few of the thoughts I shared on air:
1. Hospitals are notorious for serving bad food in their cafeterias
It seems crazy to me that a place where people are sick and having serious, complicated procedures and transplants, is serving such unhealthy food. They should have an obligation not just to patients, but also to their visitors to provide a healthy environment that promotes wellness. This isn’t a mall food court, it’s a hospital.
2. Perception is reality
Having fast food available in hospitals is also praying on those who are vulnerable and are more likely to lean on comfort food to ease the emotional stress of being at the hospital. In the 2006 Pediatrics Study they even found that people perceived fast food as healthier if it’s inside a hospital.
3. Hospitals should offer balanced choices
They should look at their food environment and help people get their 1/2 plate of fruits and veggies with their meal. This means offering salad bars and serving hot foods with non-starchy veggies and fruits as sides — not french fries and white rice.
4. Change is possible — some hospitals are already on board
The Cleveland Clinic has been a model hospital in making positive changes to their food service systems. They don’t have any fryers, have eliminated trans fats, and the fast food they do offer has a limited menu promoting healthier choices.
So what’s the answer?
Ultimately no one is forcing someone to buy fast food — it’s a personal choice. I don’t mean to pick on McDonald’s alone, they just happen to be the “big fish” and are always targeted with these sorts of issues. Hospitals have the power to create a healthy, positive environment for patients and visitors alike if they can just take a step back, look at their food environment as a whole and make changes that promote wellness.