FORT WORTH, Texas—The city’s entire fleet of 134 buses is displaying hard-hitting advertisements that mock the McDonald’s slogan and urge John Peter Smith Hospital to go #FastFoodFree. There is currently a McDonald’s restaurant inside John Peter Smith Hospital on the first floor near the main entrance. According to documents obtained by the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—the medical center may soon have an opportunity to change its food environment. In 2019, the hospital’s contract with McDonald’s expires.
The bus interior ads, scheduled to be posted the week of Aug. 7, are timed to get the attention of John Peter Smith’s board of managers ahead of the board’s meeting on Thursday, Aug. 10. Lee Crosby, R.D., a registered dietitian, will address the board members reminding them that unhealthful fast food, including burgers and shakes, can contribute to heart disease and other life-threatening conditions.
“By going fast food free and promoting healthful, plant-based meals, John Peter Smith Hospital could help reduce diet-related diseases in Tarrent County,” says Lee Crosby, R.D., of the Physicians Committee. “Tasty and affordable plant-based meals can prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.”
The bus interior ads—which target hospital staff and board members who ride the bus--- show a male doctor with a female patient. “Your Heart’s Not Lovin’ Those Cheeseburgers,” the ad states, referencing the McDonald’s slogan, “Ask your local hospital to go #FastFoodFree!” Viewers can visit www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org and sign a petition to the CEO of John Peter Smith Hospital.
Scheduled for installation the week of Aug. 7, the bus interior ads will be displayed in all of Fort Worth’s buses until Sept. 6, 2017.
The Physicians Committee obtained the McDonald’s contract with John Peter Smith Hospital over McDonald’s initial refusal to release it. The Physicians Committee appealed to the Texas attorney general who ordered McDonald’s to provide the contract to the Physicians Committee pursuant to the Texas Public Information Act.
The Physicians Committee discovered that the hospital has a “percentage rent” agreement with the fast-food chain. This means that the more unhealthful food sold to staff, visitors, and patients, the more money the hospital makes. In its 2015 report on hospital food, the Physicians Committee awarded John Peter Smith a Patient Food Score of 67 percent. The hospital lost points for hosting a fast-food chain.
Several hospitals have closed McDonald’s restaurants including Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego, and Abbot Northwestern Hospital in Minneapolis which ended its McDonald’s lease 10 years early. Currently, about 12 U.S. hospitals host McDonald’s restaurants.
A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent.
Costs are a concern to large, public hospitals like John Peter Smith Hospital, 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.