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worst children's hospital food environments

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McDonald’s, Chicken-Fried Steak Served in Top U.S. Children’s Hospitals

Shands Hospital in Florida is a top children’s hospital for heart surgery. But it has at least five fast-food outlets serving greasy burgers, cholesterol-laden pizza, and chicken sandwiches loaded with saturated fat. The patient menu includes artery-clogging meatloaf with gravy, a ham-and-cheese croissant that increases cancer risk, and beef lasagna, according to the Physicians Committee’s new report on children’s hospitals that serve the most unhealthful foods.

Physicians Committee dietitians found that many children’s hospital cafeterias and patient menus are dominated by foods high in fat, cholesterol, calories, sugar, and sodium. Processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs, are also common, despite their established link with cancer and diabetes.

A study in the journal Pediatrics found that the presence of a McDonald’s in a children’s hospital is a way for the purveyors of meat, cheese, and other junk foods to associate themselves with a healthful image. McDonald’s says it has restaurants in 27 U.S. hospitals. A study of California’s children’s hospitals published in Academic Pediatrics found that almost 40 percent had signs encouraging unhealthful eating.

Hospitals that increase the availability of low-fat, healthful options go a long way toward improving the health prognosis of both patients and visitors.

The Five Worst Children's Hospital Food Environments
Institution Nutrition Shocker
Shands Hospital for Children at University of Florida
Gainesville, Fla.
At least 5 fast-food outlets, including Wendy's; patient menu includes a ham-and-cheese croissant, barbecue chicken, and meatloaf with beef gravy
Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt
Nashville, Tenn.
4 fast-food outlets, including Taco Bell/Pizza Hut Express; cafeteria features barbecue chicken, cheesesteak wrap, and chicken-fried steak with cream gravy
St. Louis Children's Hospital-Washington University
St. Louis, Mo.
2 fast-food outlets, including Pizza Hut; patient menu includes sausage, bacon, ham, grilled chicken, and roast beef with gravy
Children's Hospital Los Angeles
Los Angeles, Calif.
McDonald's on first floor of hospital; patient menu features pizza and hot dogs
Riley Hospital for Children-Indiana University Health
Indianapolis, Ind.
McDonald's in hospital next to cafeteria; patient menu features sausage, bacon, and corn dogs

Read the report at


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