LITTLE ROCK—Under new management, Arkansas Children’s Hospital has made its patient menu more healthful by removing cancer-causing hot dogs. Hot dogs should not be served to patients because they are the No. 1 choking risk for children and are linked to an increased risk of colon cancer says the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors. Arkansas is in the colon cancer corridor, a cluster of nine states with high death rates from colorectal cancer.
"Arkansas Children’s Hospital is becoming a leader in preventing diet-related diseases by providing tasty, plant-based options and removing hot dogs from patient menus,” says Lee Crosby, R.D., staff dietitian for the Physicians Committee.
This menu upgrade aligns with a resolution recently issued by the American Medical Association (AMA). The resolution calls on hospitals “…to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing a variety of healthful food, including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars, (2) eliminating processed meats from menus, and (3) providing and promoting healthful beverages.”
The AMA’s call to eliminate processed meat, like hot dogs, is supported by strong scientific evidence. The World Health Organization warns that processed meats are “carcinogenic to humans” and there is no amount safe for consumption.
Earlier this year, the Physicians Committee wrote to the CEO of Arkansas Children’s Hospital and also put up bus interior advertisements urging the hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs. The ads were installed in the 44 available buses in Little Rock’s fleet.
The 44 bus interior ads featured a photograph of a girl holding a hot dog with the words “Choking Risk Now, Cancer Risk Later?” Viewers were urged to “Ask your local hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs! www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org.” The ads were posted the week of Feb. 6 and were displayed until March 5, 2017. The Physicians Committee also issued a report highlighting the health risks of processed meats.
The Physicians Committee’s public health campaign attracted the attention of decision-makers in Little Rock, including a local physician who offered assistance.
In March 2017, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, Miss., announced it would remove hot dogs from its patient menus. This places the four hospitals on the UMMC campus on the path toward compliance with the AMA’s recommendation on processed meat.
To prompt this change, the Physicians Committee placed a billboard near UMMC's Batson Children’s Hospital and sent a letter urging the hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs.
Patients and health care providers are often concerned that healthful foods are more expensive, but a recent study shows that healthful, disease-fighting food can be inexpensive. Published in Journal of Hunger & Environmental Nutrition, the study finds that omnivores can save $750 a year by simply switching to a plant-based diet.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.