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The Physicians Committee

NEWS RELEASE November 13, 2002

Doctors Rate Airports on Healthy Food Choices

San Francisco Flies High for Second Year in a Row; Chicago Takes a Nosedive

WASHINGTON—Before travelers pack their bags for the holidays, they should consult the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine’s (PCRM’s) new review of airport food at the busiest U.S. airports. The physicians’ group evaluated airport restaurants based on which served the most low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free meals. For the second year in a row, San Francisco International Airport landed the highest marks with 96 percent of all its restaurants offering a healthy option. Chicago took a nosedive from last year’s number three ranking to finish at number ten—the airport with the least healthy choices.

“Because of national security issues and the holiday season approaching, people are spending more of their time waiting around in airports than ever before. And although more people than ever may need to eat before or between flights, healthy meals can be hard to find in more than half of the airports we surveyed,” says PCRM dietitian, Brie Turner-McGrievy, M.S., R.D.

The survey, conducted by PCRM dietitians, found the average percentage of healthy options remained about the same, with some airports improving and others dropping by as many as twenty percentage points. However, there was an overall improvement from last year at the lower end. The lowest score this year was nine percentage points higher than last year’s lowest score. “While a number of restaurants made healthy additions to their menu, the most dramatic addition was Burger King’s BK Veggie, a veggie burger which debuted last May. Some airports have as many as six Burger King restaurants, making it much easier to find a low-fat, vegetarian option, even where you’d least expect it,” says Brie Turner-McGrievy.

PCRM’s Airport Food Ratings 2002:
Availability of Healthy Food Choices
The Ten Busiest Airports in the Country, from Best to Worst

Airport Score # of Healthy Restaurants /
Total Restaurants
San Francisco 96% 25/26
Denver 79% 26/33
Los Angeles 54% 32/59
Dallas 53% 33/62
Houston 50% 16/32
Atlanta 49% 25/51
Phoenix 48% 19/40
Las Vegas 45% 20/44
Minneapolis 44% 20/45
Chicago 42% 25/59
Note: A restaurant was rated “healthy” if it offered at least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée. To get the percentage score, PCRM divided the number of “healthy restaurants” by the 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.

Media Contact:
Jeanne S. McVey

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