CAI calling for hospitals to give McDonald's the boot

Food options like McDonald's fare in hospitals sends the wrong message about what is healthy to patients, consumer group Corporate Accountability International claims as they call for facilities to remove the fast food giant from their premises.

In an effort to steer consumers in a more healthy direction, consumer group Corporate Accountability International is calling for hospitals to kick McDonald’s out of their facilities.

Claiming that having the fast-food giant on their premises sends mixed messages to patients, Corporate Accountability International (CAI) sent letters to 22 hospital administrators whose hospitals have contracts with McDonald’s, including the Cleveland Clinic and Children’s Memorial Hospital of Chicago.

“Kids are being treated for diet-related conditions like diabetes on one floor in the hospital and given the wrong message by being offered the world’s most recognized junk food brand on another floor in the hospital,” said Dr. Francine Kaufman, former president of the American Diabetes Association and professor emeritus of pediatrics and communications at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, one of the hospitals with a McDonald’s, in a release. “The practice earns McDonald’s an undeserved association with healthfulness among parents and children alike…and it should be curtailed.”

In making the call to these hospitals to give McDonald’s the boot, CAI cited a 2006 study in Pediatrics, indicating that “allowing a McDonald’s store to operate inside a hospital affects hospital guests’ consumption on the day of their visit, and boosts the perception of the ‘healthfulness’ of McDonald’s food.” But, the consumer group adds, it is not shocking that the McDonald’s corporation would want to have stores inside hospitals.

“It’s no surprise that McDonald’s sites stores in hospitals,” the letter relates to the hospital administrators. “After all, for decades, McDonald’s has attempted to co-opt the health community, to deflect blame for the epidemic of disease that it has helped drive, and to pose itself as part of the solution.”

Other hospitals have removed McDonald’s from their facilities in the past, CAI says, and replaced them with healthier options for patients and their families. Parkland Health & Hospital System in Dallas, TX, replaced the leading fast-food chain in 2009, CAI points out, after it had been the only chain restaurant at the hospital for 20 years. And, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Vanderbilt Medical Center have also ended contracts with McDonald’s. Others, the consumer group urges, can—and should—do the same.

“Simply put, the less kids are exposed to fast food and its marketing, the less likely they are to suffer from diet-related conditions like type 2 diabetes,” said Sara Deon, Corporate Accountability International’s Value [the] Meal campaign director and the letter’s principle signatory. “McDonald’s has a long history of putting a healthy label on an inherently unhealthy brand. It has used healthcare providers and institutions to help promote this image for decades. Today, administrators have the opportunity to provide a healthier food environment for the children and families they care for.”

The letter CAI sent to the 22 hospitals is available to read on the consumer group’s website.

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