New York Times Examines Increased Number of Fast-Food Chains in Hospital Cafeterias
The New York Times on Tuesday examined fast food chains that serve as hospitals' cafeterias -- a fact that is "jarring" to some observers as "obesity and its consequences are increasingly taxing the health care system." Some hospitals say fast food franchises are the best option -- and in some cases the only option -- for providing food services.
Miriam Pappo, a registered dietician and clinical nutrition manager at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, said a study of a New Jersey hospital found that children in pediatric units ate better overall if they consumed one McDonald's meal per week. She added, "When you are scared in the hospital, you want something that brings back fun memories."
Kate McGrath, spokesperson for the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation, noted that McDonald's has a "'Made for You' option that enables customers to reduce the calories, fat or sodium of menu items." However, McGrath said Elmhurst Hospital, which HHC oversees, will not renew its contract with McDonald's in 2007.
McDonald's Senior Vice President Ken Barun cited the restaurant's experience at Houston's Texas Children's Hospital, where the chain has had an outlet for 17 years. He said that "doctors liked McDonald's because they could get something fast, and they said, 'Our sick kids will eat this food.' Happy Meals provide kids with the nutrients they need. From the emotional side, it really does help them get better."
However, the Times notes that dietary issues "have changed in the years since fast food restaurants first appeared in hospitals" in the New York City region, as obesity rates climb and a "flood of studies" have shown the condition's detrimental effects on overall health (Santora, New York Times, 10/26).