Dietitians Pick Detroit as Healthiest Airport, but Atlanta Falls to Bottom of List

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE December 21, 2011
Dietitians Pick Detroit as Healthiest Airport, but Atlanta Falls to Bottom of List
Susan Levin, M.S., R.D.

Los Angeles, Denver Slide in Rankings; Las Vegas, Charlotte Make Huge Gains

WASHINGTON—Hungry travelers can find heart-healthy food in most airport terminals this holiday season, with 83 percent of restaurants in 15 of the nation’s busiest airports now offering at least one low-fat, cholesterol-free meal, according to a new report from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). But healthy food choices are harder to find this year at some airports, including Denver International and Los Angeles International.

The number of airport restaurants offering healthy foods has increased sharply from 2001, when PCRM’s inaugural airport food review found just 57 percent of airport eateries offering at least one healthful option. Detroit ranked at the top of the 2011 report for the third year in a row, with a perfect score of 100. That’s a big change from 2001, when Detroit placed at the bottom of the list with only 33 percent of its restaurants offering a healthy option.

“Healthy airport food has taken off over the past decade, but there is still room for improvement,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “The good news is that healthy vegetarian choices are available now at most airports. But some terminals are still clogged with high-fat, high-cholesterol offerings like pizza and cheeseburgers.”

Charlotte-Douglas Airport in Charlotte, N.C., registered the most impressive improvement since last year, with a 9 point increase in the number of restaurants offering a healthy option. Washington’s Ronald Reagan National Airport moved one place up from the bottom of the rankings with an 8 point improvement over last year. Denver International Airport was the biggest loser, with a six point decrease from last year’s score. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, the world’s busiest airport, gained a point this year, but landed in last place with a score of 71 percent.

PCRM dietitians surveyed restaurant meals at 15 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.

1. Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport  100% 59/59
2. San Francisco International Airport  96% 65/68
3. Washington Dulles International Airport  92% 35/38
4. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport  86% 57/66
5. (tie) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport  83% 82/99
5. (tie) Las Vegas McCarran International Airport  83% 48/58
6. (tie) Denver International Airport   82% 46/56
6. (tie) Miami International Airport   82% 60/73
7. (tie) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport   81% 46/57
7. (tie) Charlotte Douglas International Airport  81% 39/48
8. Orlando International Airport   80% 33/41
9. (tie) Los Angeles International Airport   76% 42/55
9. (tie) Baltimore/ Washington International Airport   76% 31/41
10. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport  75% 27/36
11. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 71% 64/90

For a copy of the report or an interview with a PCRM dietitian, please contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342 or

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:
Jessica Frost
202-527-7342 office
202-607-0952 cell
News Release Archive:
2017 (12)
2016 (58)
2015 (41)
2014 (57)
2013 (25)
2012 (40)
2011 (45)
2010 (37)