MACON, Ga.—Five hard-hitting bus shelter advertisements near the Medical Center, Navicent Health, urge the health facility to go #FastFoodFree. There is currently a McDonald’s restaurant in Navicent’s professional building at 770 Pine Street. 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. On June 11, 2019, the medical center’s contract with McDonald’s expires.
The bus shelter ads, scheduled to be posted week of July 24, are timed to get the attention of Navicent Health’s board of directors ahead of the board meeting on July 27. Also during the week of July 24, the Physicians Committee will file a complaint with the Macon-Bibb County Health Department. The complaint states that unhealthful fast food, including burgers and shakes, can contribute to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
“Artery-clogging cheeseburgers and chicken have no place inside a hospital,” says Karen Smith, R.D., C.D.E., of the Physicians Committee. “The Medical Center, Navicent Health, could help bring down Macon’s high rates of diet-related diseases by offering healthful, plant-based options that appeal to visitors, patients, and staff.”
Protest Ad Details: Scheduled to go up the week of July 24, and remaining posted until Aug. 23, the large bus shelter ads are located near the Medical Center, Navicent Health. The ads are about 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. One bus shelter ad is on the corner of Hemlock Street and First Street, and another ad is on Pine Street near the emergency room entrance (100 feet from the medical center).
Two of the hard-hitting bus shelter ads are on Riverside Drive at Spring Street. The fifth ad is on Poplar Street near Second Street.
Three of the large bus shelter ads reference the McDonald’s slogan. They show a male doctor with a female patient. “Your Heart’s Not Lovin’ Those Cheeseburgers,” the ad states. “Ask your local hospital to go #FastFoodFree!” Viewers can visit MakeHospitalsHealthy.org and sign a petition to the CEO of Navicent Health.
Two of the bus shelter ads are near Children’s Hospital, Navicent Health. The ads show a girl in a hospital bed. “Does Greasy Chicken Feed Disease? Ask your local hospital to go #FastFoodFree!” Viewers are directed to EatMoreChickpeas.org.
The Physicians Committee obtained the McDonald’s contract with the Medical Center, Navicent Health, through the Georgia Open Records Act and 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.
Several hospitals have recently changed their food environments, including four hospitals that closed McDonald’s restaurants in 2016: Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta; Norton Children’s Hospital in Louisville; 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 the Medical Center, Navicent Health, 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.