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Fast-food shops in hospitals.

Fast-Food Shops in Hospitals

Hospitals are beginning to permit fast-food restaurant chains to operate on their premises. The establishment of such food vendors in a health care setting raises a question: Should any institution that is responsible for community welfare encourage practices that are now known to be inimical to public health?

It is a perplexing contradiction. On one floor of the hospital physicians struggle to keep alive a victim of cardiovascular disease, on another, a restaurant serves food that contributes to it. Three fast-food chains, at least, have begun setting up shops in hospitals around the country.

This development is ironic in view of the Surgeon General's recent report that identified animal fat as a leading contributor to disease, and warns that overconsumption of fats, sugar, and salt constitutes a major health problem for the nation.

"Of greatest concern," Surgeon General C. Everett Koop, M.D., has warned, "is our excessive intake of dietary fat and its relationship to risk for chronic diseases, some types of cancers, diabetes, high blood pressure, strokes, and obesity."

Physician and public opposition has ranged from mild irritation to something close to outrage. But the criticism is neither organized nor effective.

Especially indifferent have been the daily newspapers, medical journals, and, most dismaying, the public health journals. The best-known television magazine formats, such as 60 Minutes and West 57th Street, have yet to come up with a feature story on the subject. Also absent are the voices of the national news programs.

When hospitals administrators are confronted for their share of guilt, the excuse is that costs of maintaining their own cafeterias have escalated and losses are too great.

Hospitals and fast-food chains seem to enjoy a mutual attraction. The hospital administrators see such franchises as a way to cut losses and earn extra money. No one ever accused the fast-food chains of lacking merchandising ability.

Now that an accomplished fact is in place and little can be done to discourage hospital landlords, perhaps attention should be focused on urging the fast-food chains to make available a menu that will be health conscious - the inclusion of salads, vegetables, and whole grains and a reduction in salt, sugar, and fats.
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Copyright 1989 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Nutrition Health Review
Date:Jun 22, 1989
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