Houston's St. Luke's Tops Doctors' List of Five Worst Hospital Food Environments

The Physicians Committee
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NEWS RELEASE December 15, 2011
Houston's St. Luke's Tops Doctors' List of Five Worst Hospital Food Environments

Many Hospitals Have Multiple Fast-Food Outlets; Patients Served High-Fat Food

WASHINGTON—Houston’s St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital is famous for heart-surgery breakthroughs, but the high-fat food available to the hospital’s patients and visitors can raise the risk of heart attacks, according to a new report from the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) that lists the five U.S. hospitals with the worst food environments. For the report, PCRM researchers surveyed food served at 110 hospitals in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The complex of buildings that includes St. Luke’s, the Texas Heart Institute and the Texas Children’s Hospital hosts a McDonald’s, a Chik-fil-A, and two other fast-food outlets. The hospital’s supposedly “heart healthy” cafeteria includes a fried-chicken bar and other high-fat, high-sodium options. The patients’ menu features Chicken Florentine—a dish typically made with butter, cream, and cheese—and other high-fat foods.

The four other hospitals named in PCRM’s report also host fast-food restaurants and serve unhealthful food on cafeteria and patient menus. Medical University of South Carolina University Hospital in Charleston has five fast-food restaurants. Naval Medical Center in San Diego has three fast-food outlets and a patient menu featuring pork chops, meatball sandwiches, and other high-cholesterol foods. Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C., has three fast-food outlets. Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago serves its patients chicken wings, grilled hot dogs, and other unhealthful fare.

“Hospital food shouldn’t make us sick,” says PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “Research shows that high-fat, meaty diets are linked to obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and some cancers. It’s time for hospitals to take a hard look at their food environments and offer healthier options.”

The five worst hospital food environments are:

The Five Worst Hospital Food Environments
Institution Nutrition Shocker
St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital/Texas Heart Institute/Texas Children’s Hospital Complex (Houston, Texas) 4 fast-food outlets and fried-chicken bar in the cafeteria
Medical University of South Carolina University Hospital Complex (Charleston, S.C.) 5 fast-food outlets and a cafeteria serving country-fried steak and other high-fat fare
Naval Medical Center San Diego Hospital Facility Complex (San Diego, Calif.) 3 fast-food outlets; patients order from menu featuring pork chops, meatball sandwiches, and other high-cholesterol fare
Duke University Hospital Complex (Durham, N.C.) 3 fast-food outlets; patients order from cafeteria menu featuring spicy pork loin and other high-fat items
Children’s Memorial Hospital Complex (Chicago, Ill.) 1 fast-food outlet; patients’ menu has chicken wings, quesadillas with bacon, and grilled hot dogs

For a copy of the full report or to speak with Susan Levin, please contact Vaishali Honawar at 202-527-7339 or at vhonawar@pcrm.org.

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:
Vaishali Honawar
202-527-7339 office
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