Medical Center in Georgia Announces It Will Close McDonald’s Restaurant
Doctors Group Recommends Plant-Based Options for Patients, Visitors, and Staff
The Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors, including 294 in Georgia—says this change will benefit patients, visitors, and staff. The doctors group encourages the medical center to provide tasty and affordable plant-based options that can help people prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure.
“As the fast-food contract ends on June 11, this is the perfect time for Navicent Health to locate a vendor that provides healthful, plant-based options,” says registered dietitian Susan Levin, MS, RD, director of nutrition education for the Physicians Committee. “Georgia has high rates of deadly, diet-related diseases like diabetes, and the hospital should work with the community to promote fruits, veggies, and beans.”
The decision to close the McDonald’s was announced days after the Physicians Committee filed a complaint with the Macon-Bibb County Health Department. The complaint states that unhealthful fast food, including cheeseburgers and greasy chicken, can contribute to heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. According to documents obtained through Georgia’s Open Records Act, the medical center’s contract with McDonald’s ends on June 11, 2019.
The Physicians Committee is sponsoring two public health billboards in Macon that are posted May 29 to June 23. The billboards urge hospitals to go #FastFoodFree, and they show a doctor holding a basket of vegetables. For further information, viewers can visit www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org. One billboard is on Second Street south of Poplar Street, and the other is on Spring Street at Riverside Drive, west side. The billboards are 10 feet high and 22 feet wide.
Several hospitals have recently changed their food environments, including Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, which closed its McDonald’s following a #FastFoodFree campaign launched by the Physicians Committee. Currently, about 10 U.S. hospitals host McDonald’s restaurants, including Northside Hospital in Atlanta.
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.
Research from the Black Women’s Health Study found that eating two or more servings a week of restaurant hamburgers increases the risk of diabetes by 40 percent and that two or more servings of fried chicken a week increases the risk of diabetes by 68 percent.
Patients and health care providers are often concerned that healthful foods are more expensive, but St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, Calif., reports, “Vegetarian entrées cost about 50 percent less than meat entrées.” The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by serving more meat-free meals.
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.