Food in American Hospitals Fail To Offer Good Nutrition

  • Of all places, you would think that a hospital would offer really healthy food. Well that is not happening in a majority of hospitals around the country. Hospitals take care of many diseases that are caused by poor nutrition like diabetes and heart disease, so why are hospitals contributing to the expanding waistlines in America?


    In a recent study of Children's Hospitals in the state of California, researchers found that "only 7% of the 384 entrees served were classified as healthy according to Nutritional Environment Measures Survey for Cafeterias criteria".  In an era when childhood obesity is such a major public health concern, this result is unacceptable. When the researchers visited each cafeteria, they found high calorie impulse foods such as cookies and ice cream at most cash registers. Cafeteria operators who seem more interested in profits than health know that little "Billy" who just broke his arm is going to want a cookie and mom is going to give it to him because of the high emotions involved with food. This type of emotional blackmail is hijacking the health of patients and loved ones in hospitals across America.

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    But not all hospitals are part of the problem. In this study, the UC Davis Children's Hospital stood out as a good example of what cafeterias should be doing to offer healthy meals to all. In this cafeteria you will not find high sugar, high fat impulse foods at the cash register. You will find salads, baked chips, and whole grain breads. Low sodium, high fiber and healthier choices are easily identified for all the consumers. Patients, families and workers all benefit from this hospital's cafeteria which is blazing a healthy trail by offering good nutrition.


    Other hospitals are also identifying the need for improved nutrition. Some have banned potato chips. Others offer organic meats and farmer's markets. If more hospitals were to embrace the responsibility of being a community's guiding force in the area of health education and nutrition, America might have less people with diseases like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and arthritis. Dr. David Eisenberg, a Harvard professor in Medicine and Director of the Osher Institute at Harvard Medical School and the Division for Research and Education in Complementary and Integrative Medical Therapies, thinks that each hospital should have a "teaching kitchen" where patients and families can gather to learn how to cook healthier meals as a form of treatment.


    Someday that fantastic vision might be realized not only here in America but around the world. Until that great day, any visitors to a hospital cafeteria beware; a majority of what you see is not good for your health. Avoid the impulse foods, do not cave into your emotions, and stay true your healthy eating habits.


Published On: December 12, 2011