Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Do Fast Food, Junk Food and Sodas Belong in Hospitals?

This from The Globe and Mail (a Canadian newspaper), which will likely add fuel to the nanny state-common sense debate:
"The Burger King restaurant inside Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children served its last Whopper this weekend, closing down after the hospital chose not to renew its lease.

"The decision followed a bidding process for the food court slot at Canada’s largest pediatric hospital that was meant to offer healthier food options to visitors and staff. It reflects rising consciousness in health institutions of the need to send consistent messages about nutrition and diet at a time when obesity rates across North America are at an all-time high."
Not having fast food restaurants in hospitals is a no-brainer, in my opinion. Taking this to the next level, I don’t think sodas and other junk foods should be sold in hospitals’ smaller gift shops. There are a million other places that sell that stuff; why should institutions that cater to our health have a hand in destroying it?

I understand the for-profit nature of our huge hospital chains, but shouldn’t common sense factor into the number-crunching just a little bit?


Sarah said...

One one hand I fully agree with this. Having healthy food in a hospital seems like a no brainer. A fast food joint where a single meal can be a days worth of calories seems counterproductive and harmful to a hospitals mission. It's promoting obesity, food additives, and other chemical preservatives.

However on the other hand I can understand why hospitals have soda in the gift shop, or even have a fast food restaurant. When a friend or family member is deathly sick or injured, you live at the hospital. Depending on the case, you might be handling that family member's house and taking care of their family in addition to notifying relatives, and taking care of your own family. You don't want to leave the hospital to find healthy food, and grocery shopping for your own food and preparing your own meals is your last priority. When you have been awake for 36 hours and need to stay awake for a little bit longer, the caffeine that is present in soda and coffee is a blessing.

So while I think having a fast food restaurant in a hospital while our country is in the middle of an obesity epidemic is horrible, I can understand why they do so. It's quick, easy and cheap food. A lot of the cafeteria's food is going to be just as bad for you, but at least Burger King's tastes better. A better alternative would be to have a local cafe chain instead of the fast food restaurant, but fast food chains have a lot more money and sway.

Mia said...

As a patient in multiple hospitals in the Philadelphia area, I was stunned to be SERVED scrapple during a stay in the ICU. I could not believe the hospital cafeteria (not even a privately owned fast food restaurant) would not only offer this as an option, but serve it as the default breakfast for anyone who didn't get to their bed early enough to make a healthier decision.

Needless to say, I began to cry when I (ravenously) removed the cover from my plate only to discover it was not the scrambled egg and bran muffin I had chosen, but an unidentifiable conglomeration of animal parts. EW.

How is it that the places that are supposed to be giving us the best care are increasing the fat, cholesterol and table salt we ingest?