ATLANTA—Grady Memorial Hospital has closed its McDonald’s, according to Georgia Health News
and other news outlets. In May, two representatives of the nonprofit Physicians Committee testified before the Grady Hospital board of directors, urging the hospital to go fast food free. Karen Smith, R.D., the group’s senior dietitian, pointed out that low-cost, plant-based options—such as bean burritos and southern greens—can prevent and even reverse heart disease, obesity, and diabetes.
“Grady Hospital has taken an important step towards improving the health of its staff, patients and visitors,” says Ms. Smith, senior dietitian for the Physicians Committee. “Artery-clogging Big Macs and Egg McMuffins will no longer be steps from the cardiac unit.”
Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors—posted three hard-hitting billboards near Grady Memorial Hospital on May 4. The billboards urged the hospital to go #FastFoodFree. Physicians Committee also organized an online petition to Grady’s C.E.O. John Haupert.
In 2014, The Physicians Committee obtained the McDonald’s contract with Grady Memorial Hospital through Georgia’s Open Records Act and discovered that the hospital had 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 made.
In the Physicians Committee’s 2016 report on hospital food, Grady Memorial Hospital received a patient food score of 71 percent. It lost points for hosting a fast food outlet.
Several hospitals named in reports issued by the Physicians Committee have recently improved their food environments. These include Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Texas, Memorial Regional Hospital in Florida, Riley Children’s Hospital in Indiana, the Cleveland Clinic, and Abbott Northwestern Hospital in Minnesota, all of which formerly hosted McDonald’s.
Costs are a concern to safety net hospitals like Grady, 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.