Much like airline food, hospital food is notoriously awful — but perhaps serving Big Macs and McNuggets at medical centers isn't the way to go. A nonprofit group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is aiming to expose the rather sketchy relationship between fast food chains and hospitals in hopes that burgers and fries will be kicked to the curb.
In the fifth report of a series on hospital food, the PCRM reveals that "Chick-fil-A has at least 20 hospital locations, McDonald’s has at least 18, and Wendy’s has at least five" across the U.S. Takepart.com points out that "Most of [these] hospitals are located in the South, where, according to Centers for Disease Control statistics, obesity rates are disproportionately high."
The PCRM report takes a closer look at several contracts and finds that at Houston's Ben Taub General Hospital, "the monthly rent McDonald’s pays to the hospital increases based on food sales" — meaning, the more burgers sold, the more the hospital profits. A medical center in Greenville, South Carolina has a contract with an on-site Chick-Fil-A stating that the hospital will "make every reasonable effort to increase the sales and business" for the chicken sandwich purveyor; the report points out that this is despite "an analysis published in Nutrition and Cancer: An International Journal [which] found that Chick-fil-A chicken samples commonly contain PhIP, a carcinogen linked to breast, colon, and prostate cancer." A McDonald's location at a Georgia hospital even offers bedside delivery.
The report concludes that "hospitals that have contracts with fast-food restaurants encourage patients, employees, and visitors to eat the very foods . . . that hospitalize millions of Americans every year with complications from obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer," and calls for fast food to be banned from hospitals, just as cigarettes have.
Perhaps we'd all be better off if hospitals joined forces with chefs instead of fast food chains; James Beard Award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein recently teamed up with a group of Florida hospitals to create a special menu for chemotherapy patients. Meanwhile in France, a hospital has decided to improve the quality of life for its patients by installing a wine bar.