Sunday, September 5, 2010

Junk Food and Hospitals

A recent study found that children who eat vended junk snack foods tend to maintain poor dietary habits which may lead to obesity, diabetes and arteriosclerosis. According to the LA Times, “The researchers – from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University and Food & Nutrition Database Research Inc. of Okemos, Mich. – calculated that all that snacking adds up to about 14 extra pounds per child per school year.”

Every hospital I have ever worked in or even visited had numerous snack and soda vending machines and served what I would generously call “less than nutritious” food in its cafeteria. How often have you seen a morbidly obese visitor or even a patient walking away from a vending area with a bag of potato chips and a soda?

Why is it that hospitals, even inner city public hospitals which serve only the indigent, promote poor nutrition? I think I may have a clue.

A paper from several months ago reported that if junk foods are removed from schools, children eat less junk food. Why would schools want to provide their students with junk foods? In an interview with Science Daily, the lead author of that study “…explained that financial pressure from both the food industry, looking to build brand loyalty, and the schools, which get a cut of the profits from vending machines, is the main reason there is opposition to removing soft drinks and junk foods.”

Could this be the case with hospitals as well? I have no doubt. So we have the hypocrisy of hospitals sponsoring screening programs for all kinds of diseases and promoting their lucrative bariatric surgery services, while they are fattening up the clientele with junk foods and drinks. Can I be the only observer who has noticed this?

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