Doctors say hospitals’ contracts with fast food harm patients’ health

Contracts obtained by the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—show that McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A are compelling public hospitals to promote unhealthful food to patients, visitors, and staff. Grady Hospital in Atlanta has a “percentage rent” agreement with McDonald’s, meaning the more artery-clogging burgers and shakes sold to patients, the more money the hospital makes.

The Chick-fil-A contract with Greenville Memorial Hospital in South Carolina asks the hospital to “make every reasonable effort to increase the sales and business and maximize the Gross Receipts.” This means the hospital is promoting fried chicken and other foods tied to serious chronic diseases including heart disease and diabetes.

Through public records requests, the Physicians Committee obtained five hospital fast food- contracts, and it has also acquired patient menus from six hospitals. Details are provided in a new report, “The Six Worst Public Hospital Food Environments.” Some public hospitals—including   Broward General Medical Center—failed to provide documents as required by law.

“Pushing fast-food burgers and greasy chicken sandwiches at the hospital can turn visitors and staff into patients, while undermining patients’ efforts to heal,” says Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D.“ Public hospitals should do all they can to end contracts that force them to promote unhealthful foods from McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A.”

Here is an overview of the six worst public hospital food environments:

Hospital Fast Food Outlets Fast Food Contract Shocker Patient Food Score
Greenville Memorial Hospital in Greeneville, S.C. Three fast-food outlets including Chick-fil-A Chick-fil-A/Hospital encouraged to “make every reasonable effort to increase the sales.” 62% D
John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas McDonald’s Receipt pending Based on Order from Office of the Attorney General of Texas. 67% D
Grady Hospital in Atlanta, Ga. McDonald’s McDonald’s/Hospital makes more money when McDonald’s makes more money. 69% D+
Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, N.Y. Three fast-food outlets including Tim Hortons Tim Hortons/Hospital tenants should “focus on healthcare related enterprises.” 72% C
Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas McDonald’s McDonald’s/ McDonald’s permitted to terminate its lease if yearly gross sales do not reach $1 million. 73% C
Georgia Regents Medical Center/Children’s Hospital of Georgia in Augusta, Ga. McDonald’s in the Children’s Medical Center McDonald’s/ McDonald’s may provide to patients, including “McDelivery,” Happy Meals, birthday parties. 76% C

Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.

Categories: Health

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