Medical professionals work to improve food options in US hospitals

With the growing obesity epidemic that has plagued the United States, medical professionals are protesting the presence of junk food options in hospitals.

Large fast food companies, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Chick-Fil-A, have contracts with many hospitals across the nation. In one example, a McDonald’s inside Ben Taub Hospital in Houston has a leasing contract that states that the more sales they make, the greater their rent increases to the hospital.

Cleveland Clinic is one of the hospitals near Case Western Reserve University that still has fast food restaurants.

“I used to work there, and it has McDonald’s, Mexican Grille and a lot of other unhealthy things,” said licensed practical nurse and phlebotomist Veronica Gregory who works in University Hospitals (UH). “They should definitely bring more health awareness, especially in a hospital.”

However there is still hope. Many hospitals, through the advocacy of their employees, are switching to healthier options to provide their patients and cafeterias. For example UH has a Mindful Nutrition Program, a program run by the Sodexo, the company that provides food to the hospital. Its focus is to make good-tasting food that is healthy and well-balanced.

“Since UH switched over, they have more oven-baked food and less fried food,” said Gregory. “Everything is much healthier, which is different than before when everything we had here was unhealthy. All the patients on the floor eat healthy food and get very good nutrition.”

Having healthier and fresher food in hospitals also provides knowledge about health to individuals. Showing them what food is healthy and what is not can decrease the list of ailments that come from the growing obesity problem.

“My opinion is that people are gonna eat what they want eat, but in a hospital, the patients should be able to have a better variety of food and know how to eat healthy,” said Gregory.

As of 2014, the rate of obese people in the U.S. had increased to 27.7 percent. This is the highest rate that has been measured in seven years. These rates are prevalent in low-income areas where people do not have the knowledge of or access to healthy food.

Obesity leads to many health problems. These include diabetes, high blood-pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease.