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  1. News Release

  2. Feb 7, 2017

Doctors Confront Children’s Hospitals Over #HazardousHotDogs

Hard-Hitting Billboards Urge Hospitals to Protect Patients From Choking and Cancer Risk

WASHINGTON—Hard-hitting billboards and other advertisements scheduled to go up Feb. 6 will urge children’s hospitals in six cities to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs. Hot dogs should not be served to patients because they are the  No. 1 choking risk for children and are linked to high risk of colon cancer says the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors. The six targeted hospitals are in the colon cancer corridor, a cluster of nine states with high death rates from colorectal cancer.

The Physicians Committee is also releasing a new report finding that 72 percent of surveyed children’s hospitals nationwide serve cancer-causing hot dogs to patients. The World Health Organization warns that processed meats, including hot dogs, are “carcinogenic to humans” and there is no amount safe for consumption. According to a recent study published in JAMA Surgery, colon cancer is increasing in young people (ages 20 to 34 years).

In strongly worded letters, the Physicians Committee is urging hospital CEOs to remove hot dogs from patient menus in time for March, which is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

“In order to promote healing and prevent disease, children’s hospitals should increase offerings of healthful, plant-based options that are popular with patients—like veggie chili and fruit smoothies,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. Ms. Levin is from Alabama, one of the states in the colon cancer corridor.

Billboard advertisements are scheduled to go up Feb. 6 near the Children’s Hospital of Alabama in Birmingham, Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio. The billboards are 10 feet tall and 22 feet wide.

The Children’s Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City and Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital in Nashville are targeted with bus shelter ads that are 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide. In addition, the 60 buses in Nashville’s fleet all display bus interior advertisements. In Little Rock, the 44 available buses display interior advertisements highlighting #HazardousHotDogs at  Arkansas Children’s Hospital. The #HazardousHotDogs advertisements will remain posted until March 5, 2017.

The advertisements posted near hospitals that serve hot dogs feature a photograph of a girl holding a hot dog with the words “Choking Risk Now, Cancer Risk Later?” Viewers are urged to “Ask your local hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs!” 

The states in the colon cancer corridor with high rates of fatalities are Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Hot dogs serve as an indicator of a disease-promoting food environment.

At least four children’s hospitals located in the colon cancer corridor already exclude hot dogs from patient menus. These hospitals, including West Virginia University Children’s Hospital, will not be targeted with advertisements.

Patients and health care providers are often concerned that healthful foods are more expensive, 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.


Media Contact

Jeanne Stuart McVey



Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in education and research.

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