A recent article in the Georgia Health News [a non-profit newsletter devoted to covering health care in Georgia] announced The Medical Center, Navicent Health in Macon, GA, will close its McDonald’s restaurant. This action followed the posting of billboards near the hospital reading, “Not Lovin’ Clogged Arteries? Ask your local hospital to go #Fast Food Free!”
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, PCRM, not only claimed responsibility for erecting the billboards, but also filed a complaint with the Macon-Bibb County Health Department, stating that Georgia’s high rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes can be linked to the consumption of cheeseburgers, greasy chicken, and many of the menu items at fast food outlets like McDonalds. PCRM called for the Health Department to advise the hospital to change its food culture by providing, and promoting, plant-based options.
PCRM further asserted in its own publication that a study, published in the journal Circulation, found people eating one fast food meal a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20%. Two to three fast food meals eaten per week increase their risk of premature death by 50%. Sadly, four or more of these meals consumed per week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80%.
Under increasing pressure from the Physicians Committee, and the ever-growing awareness of educated consumers, several US hospitals have recently improved the food selections offered to visitors and patients- including four hospitals that closed their McDonald’s restaurants.
For those expressing concern that eliminating fast foods will increase costs, a report from St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, CA, stated, “Vegetarian entrees cost about 50% less than meat entrees.” The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by serving more meat free meals.
Ideally, hospitals would be in the business of teaching how to prevent illnesses with delicious, plant-based meals, rather than profiting from the treatment of preventable illnesses linked to unhealthy dietary habits promoted within their institutions.
Dateline: Latham, Albany County, New York