Monday, December 04, 2006

McDonald's Children's Hospital

How was your weekend? Mine was wonderful and relaxing, thanks for asking! A time to just take a break. Until, this morning when I read the news....

Here's a question, how often have you seen McDonalds or other fast food restaurants somewhere in the hospital? How about if you have ever been at a children's hospital?

In a study recently released, researchers in Pittsburgh are very upset about this. The article is in today's Washington Post and is entitled, "Fast Food at Kids' Hospitals Causing Worry."
The researchers queried 200 pediatric residency programs in 2002-03. About 30 percent, or 59, had fast-food restaurants in their hospitals. McDonald's alone or in combination with other fast-food restaurants were located in 22.
The article goes on to say that this sends a mixed message to parents, especially with the growing problem of childhood obesity in the United States (no pun intended).

Now, I totally agree that childhood obesity is a problem. But, do hospitals serve McDonalds in patient rooms? I don't think so. Who buys the fast food for their children? Oh yeah, that's right! The families of children buy the fast food.

Now, I know what you're going to say. "Dr. A, if fast food wasn't IN the hospital, then it wouldn't be a problem." Are fast food places the ONLY places to get food in the hospital? How about parents taking their kids to the hospital cafeteria? I'm sure a children's hospital would choose healthier food for their own cafeteria, right?

Here's are some facts that are left out of the above article. I did a quick search of the website for Ronald McDonald House Charities. Did you know that as of 2004, more than $400 million in grants worldwide have been distributed to benefit children. How many times have you heard about the Ronald McDonald House helping someone you know?

Also, I did a quick scan of the sponsor lists for charities like St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital, the Children's Miracle Network, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Did you know that they have sponsors like Anheuser-Busch, Wal-Mart, Dairy Queen, and Coca-Cola? Oh no! This is definitely sending the wrong message to children! C'mon, gimme a break.

In my opinion, this Pittsburgh study is another attempt to attack fast food establishments and give parents a free pass on the care of their own children. So, according to this article, the solution is simple - If you want to solve the problem of childhood obesity, go to the hospital cafeteria!


Anonymous said...

Don't you understand? We must not be held accountable for our own decisions. We must be able to blame others for coercing us into doing the dumb things we do.

While I do understand it is somewhat ironic to have a fast-food place in a hospital, there are many such contradictions - including the food that is served in the hospital cafeteria. We rattle the cage for freedom, yet when we the freedom leads us to make bad choices, we don't want to take responsibility. The good that has come out of this is the addition of much healthier things on their menus.

Big Lebowski Store said...

Stop me before I supersize again!

Anonymous said...

last year when charlie was in the heart institute the cafeteria food was so fatty and disgusting you could not believe it. i had to bring food to the hospital. i think they thought gravy was a beverage. i could not believe it. the heart wing!!! sigh.... bee

Lea said...

If there weren't a fast food restaurant in the hospital, families of patients would drive to the nearest one anyway. So, in fact our enviornment is benefiting from these fine establishments being inside the hospital.

~Mary said...

The cafeteria in the hospital is not health-food by far. Forget the McDonalds or other fast foods, the cafeteria food is mostly carbs with heavy sauces and creams or meat laden sandwiches. The two times I was a patient in the hospital while giving birth, I couldn't believe the caloric content of the food tray. I was convinced they wanted me to gain 10 pounds before leaving. No joke, hubby would finish my tray and we both got full. The supersize menus don't exist just in drive thru.

Anonymous said...

Heh. I read a story recently about something similar in the east coast provinces up here. McDonald's was promoting a fitness program and apparently, it was giving "mixed messages." Or at least Ronald was. He was "banned" from a school district. Poor Ronald. I think they were also concerned about the evils of mass marketing as well.

Hospital cafeteria food as healthy? I don't know if I've ever eaten any cafeteria food that is particularly healthy. It's still mass produced and could largely be made from packaged product and you never know who their suppliers may be. However, it's probably marginally better than a Big Mac or a Quarter Pounder.

Kalisa said...

there's no fast food at St. Jude. In fact, we have a really good catering staff that cooks everything for the patients & their families.

Midwife with a Knife said...

We don't really have any healthy choices in our hospital cafeteria, unless slime that used to be lettuce is considered a healthy choice.

Frustratingly, we can order a 2200 kcal diabetic diet for our patients, except the thing is, they still get exactly the same food. The diet we order for a patient makes no difference in what food they get. This is particularly alarming in cases of food allergy.

ipanema said...

Point taken, Dr. A. However, I have to agree on other comments that food at a hospital cafeteria isn't guaranteed nutritious. Not all, that is. Bravo to those who serve nutritious food.

From where I original come from, it's salty, too sweet and a lot of meat dishes.

On the other hand, all these corporate drive to social responsibility is extend scholarships, donations and the like. It's but normal to see them handing-out big chunk of their profit to charity. Perhaps it's one way of giving back to community or perhaps clear their guilt [trans-fat, obesity]?

Location isn't a problem. Even if fastfoods are miles away from the hospital but that urge to gobble is there, they'll go no matter how far it is.

Anonymous said...

This issue reminds me of an incident when I was a rookie nurse on a heart floor---and I couldn't find my dang patient. I was terrified that I'd get into a world of trouble for losing him. You know where they finally found the guy? In his gown, bare butt shining brightly, in the line at McDonalds, 2 blocks down the street from the hospital-- trying to get himself some forbidden Micky Dee's, heh heh!

Muddy said...

A year and a half ago, I had to take my son to Duke Medical Center for some tests. I remember thinking how interesting/ironic/odd it was that the very thing (tobacco) that provided the money to build this wonderful facility also is what will land so many there in need of health care.

I am all for people making good choices whether it is in their food or in not smoking-but likewise am thankful that these major corporations give generously to hospitals and other community institutions, making the world a better place somehow in the big picture.

Anonymous said...

Fast food in a hospital? Wow! I kinda wish that the hospitals I have been too had that option so when I was in there with my son I would have an alternative to the crappy cafeteria food. The cafeteria food was not much better for you any way.

Anonymous said...

Oh Thank you for this post...There was a big uproar here in Ohio at Cleveland Clinic a couple years ago. They got a new director for their heart center. You know they are way at the top, for being the best heart center in the world (according to US News and World Report). This guy had a fit and wanted Mc Donalds thrown out of CCF. Well, what about "Star Bucks" thats in CCF charging 5.00 for a cup of caffeine that also isn't good for your heart?

I could tell them alot of areas they could improve on and McDonalds being in house isn't even on my list. Besides, there is (1) McDonalds inside CCF, and it is directly in front of the cafeteria. So it is not as if it is more convienent that going to the cafeteria. When I was there the last time I can't even tell you if McDonalds was still there or not. I was pissed at having to pay 10.00 for paking and 269.00 to spend one night at the damn Intercontinental hotel on campus.

You're also right about Ronald McDonald houses. They have done so much for familes of sick kids. If you don't want to give your kids fast food then take responsibility for it. God, we are such a society of blaming everyone but ourselves.

BTW, guess what CCF brought me, as an inpatient, for my first meal following a collis gastroplasty/nissen fundoplication when I was on a clear liquid diet only? I couldn't even swallow..It woudl be 2 months before I coudl eat real food and they brought me in a hamburger and french fries! lol

Anonymous said...

Well luckily we don't have that here just yet!!! but yes when on the rare occassion that I am visiting a friend or someone in the hospital, there are parents and family that brings in all sorts of "fast foods" because the hopspital food is so crap!!!! Inside most of the private hosp here, there is a restaurant, that usually sells ok food but then it is so darn expensive a big mac seems the next best option!!!!hehehe (Luckily I am not a McDonalds fan, anymore).

Love your blog, thanks for reading mine sometime ago!

NeoNurseChic said...

I agree with what Awesome Mom said - it is a nice option for parents instead of crappy cafeteria food. If parents have already been feeding their kids healthy choices, then they're not going to bring little Susie a McDonald's Happy Meal while in her hospital room, but they might eat it themselves. I don't see too much wrong with that concept!

At our hospital, we don't have McD's or anything like that. We have a pretty wide variety of choices, but you can get some pretty fatty foods at the grill! They do have a big salad bar, and I always get a fruit cup from there when I eat there. A funny story is that my ex-boyfriend was doing his last 2 years of med school at a big hospital in NJ, and every day, he would eat a cheese steak from the hospital cafeteria. When he went to his family doc for a checkup, they checked his cholesterol and it was wayyyyyy up. He had to quickly change his diet and get the cholesterol down. So it's not just families and patients that make bad do docs, nurses, other staff, etc. I know my favorite meal from the hospital caf is grilled cheese on wheat, french fries, a fruit cup, and a pudding for dessert.

Our hospital's food for patients is horrific, IMHO. They put gravy on everything, even when you write "NO GRAVY" on the menu! I finally started telling them I was a vegetarian, and then I got fruit salads, cheese pizza and other much yummier foods! :) So my parents would sometimes bring me fast food to eat while in the hospital because I wouldn't even eat at all when I had a try come up that made me nauseous or tasted gross.

I agree that Ronald McDonald House is a Godsend for so many!

Take care,
Carrie :)

jbwritergirl said...

I think this is a secret ploy by hospitals to increase business especially with all the new obesity wings opening.

Anonymous said...

Texas Children's Hospital, one of the finest in the nation, has a Mickey D's in-house. Rumor has it that it is the busiest McDonald's in the country, but I don't have a reference to support that claim. They are open until 3 am.

The hospital is a scary place for children, and many of these sick kids are wheeled into this place of comfort with an IV infusing, hairless from chemo, thrilled to find a colorful happy break from their frightening "routine" so they can enjoy their favorite food in the whole world.

Cut them some slack, folks.

The Curmudgeon said...

I'm tired of the food police.

rob has it right.

And, besides, trans-fats were popularized as a 'healthy' alternative to lard. Whatever replaces them will also be characterized as dangerous eventually. Some weeks coffee is healthy, with anti-oxidants -- some weeks it's a carcinogen. Red wine is good -- then red wine is bad. Fish is good for you -- then fish is bad.

A starvation low calorie diet makes you look younger and live longer -- if you don't develop an eating disorder and die.

Doc, I'm sticking with donuts in the morning and pizza at night!

Anonymous said...

I'm siding with scalpel for the most part. It's a comfort. Sometimes, after spending 6 hours at the doctor's or all day in the hospital or $1000's in travel, all you feel like having is McD's.

We need people to make healthy choices. Our hosp uses Marriott; there is little healthy to choose from. That's why I bring my lunch to work.

Dream Mom said...

I am not so sure I agree. I feel it is somewhat irresponsible to have an establishment with a core value of health and then to offer less than healthy choices.

Zany Mom said...

Okay, so I'm nearly two months late responding to this post, but just try feeding a kid on dexamethasone (as part of his chemo protocol) anything healthy. I dare you. ;)

The food in the peds ward where my son got chemo was so awful even I wouldn't eat it. We ended up bringing food from home for his hospital stays. Sad when you need a hand truck to carry all of the necessary items for a 4-day hospital stay.

Fortunately the cafeteria food wasn't too bad, and there was a Subway down the street. Otherwise *I* might not have survived.

BTW, he was two, and I had to stay with him.

Anonymous said...


How about we all take responsibility for our
Actions? Parents should be held liable for feeing their children fast food, as well as the companies should be held liable for advertising to children. Companies should be held liable for processing the food the way they do.