Just Read: Hospitals Lead by Poor Example: An Assessment of Snacks, Soda, and Junk Food Availability in Veterans Affairs Hospitals

2018.05 Low Carb and Low Carbon - Ted Eytan MD 7-1001-610
Examples of foods served at medical professional meetings (left), and in hospitals today (right). A challenging food environment does not go unnoticed by today’s generation of physicians.
(View on Flickr.com)

It’s not just us. More and more physicians are noting an unhealthy food environment where they work to save lives.

In this study, physicians used the Freedom of Information Act process to get information about food available at VHA hospitals.

Process verification for a Freedom of Information Act request was used to assess government-run inpatient and outpatient VA hospital facilities by accessing the location, quantity, and contents of vending machines.

From the food vending machines:

Of the 65 available items, 28% were candy, 14% were potato chips or puffed corn snacks, 11% were pastries or frosted baked goods, 11% were crackles or pretzels, and 8% were nuts or trail mix, with the remainder consisting of jerky, pork rinds, gum, and pop- corn. Ofthe 38 mandated items, 32% (12) were candy, 13% (5) were pastries or frosted baked goods, 13% (5) were crackers, 11% (4) were cookies, 11% (4) were potato chips or puffed corn snacks, 8% (3) were gum packets, 5% were granola bar options (2), 5% were nut options (2, trail mix and peanuts), and 3% were jerky option (1) . Of the 27 approved substitution items, 22% were candy (6), 19% were potato chips or puffed corn snacks (5), 11% were nuts or trail mix (3), 7% were cookies (2), 7% were crackers (2), 7% were pastries or frosted baked goods (2), 7% were gum (2), 7% were popcorn (2), 4% was jerky (1), and 4% were pork rinds (1).Champ CE, Iarrobino NA, Haskins CP. Hospitals Lead by Poor Example: An Assessment of Snacks, Soda, and Junk Food Availability in Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Nutrition [Internet]. Elsevier; 2018 Oct [cited 2018 Nov 8];0(0)

VHA recommendations suggest avoiding added sugars, like high-fructose corn syrup, the most common ingredient in soda…

It is difficult to reconcile these recommendations for veterans when their own government-provided hospitals and facilities provide vending machines with 46% of available beverages providing well over the daily recommendation of added sugar in a single sit- ting, and the majority of food products in both beverage and pack- aged food vending machines contain the same ingredients they recommend avoiding. Furthermore, these vending machines pro- vide little to no food options that provide tangible nutrition, ques- tioning the motives behind their availability at facilities that are supposed to promote health and prevention, especially to a group of individuals at high risk for obesity and diabetes.Champ CE, Iarrobino NA, Haskins CP. Hospitals Lead by Poor Example: An Assessment of Snacks, Soda, and Junk Food Availability in Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Nutrition [Internet]. Elsevier; 2018 Oct [cited 2018 Nov 8];0(0)

If you have access to the paper via your institution or library, I recommend taking a look a the supplmental materials, with photographs of the foods served in these hospitals.

Reference

Champ CE, Iarrobino NA, Haskins CP. Hospitals Lead by Poor Example: An Assessment of Snacks, Soda, and Junk Food Availability in Veterans Affairs Hospitals. Nutrition [Internet]. Elsevier; 2018 Oct [cited 2018 Nov 8];0(0).

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