California Children’s Hospitals Offer Few Healthy Food Choices
Just 7% of entrees offered to outpatients, visitors and staff at California's children's hospitals are considered healthy, according to a study published in the journal Academic Pediatrics, Kaiser Health News' "Capsules" reports.
The UCLA School of Medicine and RAND conducted the study.
Researchers visited California's 14 major children's hospitals last year and examined 16 food venues that included snack bars and cafeterias. The study did not analyze food offered to inpatients (Torres, "Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 12/1).
Researchers used a modified version of a nutrition measurement scale for food establishments that offers scores ranging from zero, the least healthy, to 37, the most healthy.
Researchers found that the hospitals had an average score of 19.1 (Oh, Becker's Hospital Review, 12/1).
Food offered in the snack bars and cafeterias included fried food, sweetened beverages, burgers and dessert items, according to the study ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 12/1).
The study also found that:
- 81% of venues offered high-calorie, high-sugar items, such as ice cream, near the cash register;
- 50% did not provide any sign that they had healthy entrees;
- 44% did not offer low-calorie salad dressing (Becker's Hospital Review, 12/1); and
- Fewer than one-third had nutrition information availableÂ at the point of sale (CBC News, 12/1).
However, all venues offered low-fat or skim milk and diet sodas. A majority also offered fruit, baked chips, a salad bar or non-fried vegetables ("Capsules," Kaiser Health News, 12/1).
Researchers recommended that national hospital groups develop standards for food quality, labeling, marketing and pricing.
According to the researchers, some of the hospitals in the study already have taken steps to improve the healthfulness of their food offerings (CBC News, 12/1).
On Thursday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the study about food options offered at California's children's hospitals (Bailey, "KPCC News," KPCC, 12/1).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.