Dietitians Grade Newark as Healthiest Airport, Atlanta Remains at Bottom of List

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE November 26, 2012
Dietitians Grade Newark as Healthiest Airport, Atlanta Remains at Bottom of List
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

San Francisco Slides in Rankings; Chicago Makes Big Gain

WASHINGTON—The nearly 25 million travelers passing through airports this holiday season can find a healthful meal in most terminals: 76 percent of restaurants in 18 of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free, vegetarian meal, according to a new report from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). But healthful food choices are harder to find this year at some airports, including Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Los Angeles International.

The number of airport restaurants offering healthful foods has increased from 2001, when PCRM’s inaugural airport food review found just 57 percent of airport eateries offering at least one healthful option. Newark Liberty International Airport ranks at the top of the 2012 report for the first time with a score of 92 percent. It’s a dramatic improvement from 2003, when just 60 percent of its restaurants offered a healthful option.

“Healthful vegetarian meals at airports across the country are just the ticket for traveling light this holiday season,” says PCRM director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “But some airports still serve too many greasy cheeseburgers and slices of pepperoni pizza that leave passengers feeling grounded.”

Chicago O’Hare International Airport makes the most impressive gain, with a 13-point increase in the number of restaurants offering a healthy option. Las Vegas made an 8-point improvement over last year. San Francisco International Airport was the biggest loser, with a 19-point decrease from last year’s score. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson lost 13 points this year and remains in last place with a score of 58 percent.

Airport Score Healthful Restaurants/Total Restaurants
1. Newark Liberty International Airport  92% 56/61
2. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport  91% 49/54
3. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport  90% 52/58
4. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport  87% 53/61
5. (tie) Chicago O’Hare International Airport  84% 81/97
5. (tie) Miami International Airport  84% 63/75
6. (tie) Orlando International Airport  82% 36/44
6. (tie) Washington Dulles International Airport  82% 32/39
6. (tie) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport  82% 49/60
7. Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport  81% 76/94
8. (tie) Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport  78% 51/65
8. (tie) Charlotte Douglas International Airport  78% 35/45
9. (tie) San Francisco International Airport  77% 53/69
9. (tie) Denver International Airport  77% 47/61
10. (tie) Los Angeles International Airport  76% 38/50
10. (tie) Baltimore/Washington International Airport  76% 29/38
11. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport  69% 24/35
12. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport  58% 45/78

PCRM dietitians surveyed restaurant meals at 18 major airports in more than a dozen states for the report. They gave each restaurant a point if its menu included at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian entrée. The final percentage score was derived by dividing the airport's number of restaurants serving health-conscious fare by its total number of restaurants.

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.

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