In America, it has been said that we are digging our graves with knives and forks, and it seems apt enough considering how large of a problem obesity is in the US… so why do we have McDonald’s locations in some of our hospitals?
In the abstract, it’s not a massive issue or one that should even take precedence when we have far more pressing issues that could use time and energy spent upon them. But heart disease is the number one killer in the United States (with diabetes in at #6), which makes the contrast of the nation’s most notoriously unhealthy-yet-cheap food purveyor being present in the very places people are sent to treat the illnesses they acquire leading less-than-ideal lifestyles.
To answer the question, of course, it’s likely largely in part to supply and demand- as long as people are buying McDonald’s at the hospital, McDonald’s will be present in the hospital. And to its credit, McDonald’s has kind of come to be a symbol of American excess, when the problem is far larger and more pervasive than a single, if ubiquitous, seller of quarter pounders.
But a corporate watchdog group has gone after the presence of McDonald’s in hospitals despite our insistence as a country on hospital bedside McFlurrys, asking that hospitals across the US abandon their contracts with the fast food purveyors to “stop fostering a food environment that promotes harm, not health.” Corporate Accountability International posted the open letter on their website, stopcorporateabuse.org, and in part, it reads:
“However, in your role as a local health leader, you have allowed McDonald’s—a corporation that has disregarded public health in the name of profits—to operate within an environment devoted to helping our children get well. A 2006 study published in Pediatrics concluded that by allowing a McDonald’s store to operate inside your facility, you are not just affecting hospital guests’ consumption on the day of their visit, but you are unintentionally boosting your guests’ perception of the “healthfulness” of McDonald’s food. In other words, your hospital is being used as part of McDonald’s comprehensive marketing strategy, a strategy that is clearly inconsistent with your goals as a health institution.”
The full screed requesting the removal of McDonald’s from US hospitals can be read here.