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Should Ben Taub Hospital in Houston Go #FastFoodFree?

Hospital Fast Food

In the basement of Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, a McDonald's restaurant offers cheesburgers, chicken, and other artery-clogging fare to visitors, patients, and staff.

But the hospital may soon have an opportunity to change its food environment. Through the Texas Public Information Act, Physicians Committee has obtained Ben Taub Hospital's agreement with McDonald's. The lease sets an initial 10-year term that ended in 2012. The first of two five-year extensions expires in just a few months—on Sept. 24, 2017.

Do you agree that Ben Taub Hospital should  ban the burgers and instead promote healthful, plant-based options for patients, their families, and hospital staff? If so, Please sign a letter to Anne Clutterbuck, chair of the board of trustees for Ben Taub Hospital and its parent company Harris Health System. Or send a tweet to @HarrisHealth, using the hashtag #FastFoodFree.

 



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Ben Taub Hospital Petition

To: Anne Clutterbuck, chair of the board of trustees for Ben Taub Hospital

Subject: Please Make Ben Taub Hospital Fast-Food Free

Dear Ms. Clutterbuck,

In light of Houston’s high rates of heart disease, diabetes, and other diet-related diseases, would you consider changing Ben Taub Hospital's food environment to address the cause of these diseases?

A McDonald's restaurant is located in the hospital's basement, and according to documents obtained by the Physicians Committee, the first of two five-year lease extensions ends in just a few months—on Sept. 24, 2017.

Several hospitals have recently closed on-site fast-food chains including Abbott Northwestern Hospital, which ended its McDonald’s lease 10 years early. "As an organization focused on health, it is our responsibility to model and encourage healthy choices," said Dr. Penny Wheeler, president and chief executive of Allina Health, the hospital’s parent organization.

In addition to often causing weight gain, consumption of cheeseburgers, chicken, and other fast food is linked to risk of heart disease—and the risk increases as people eat more fast food. 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 increases the risk of death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increases the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent.

According to the report "The State of Health: Houston and Harris County 2015-2016," heart disease has persisted as the first or second leading cause of death in Harris County for years. In Houston, 32.8 percent of adults have high blood pressure, 38 percent have high cholesterol, 10.8 percent have diabetes, and 64.6 percent are overweight or obese.

To combat these diet-related diseases, the report recommends that Houston "develop policies and plans that promote environments with access to healthy foods..." Making Ben Taub Hospital fast food free would help achieve this goal. Studies show that people who consume plenty of veggies, beans, and whole grains are likely to weigh less and have lower rates of heart disease and diabetes.

I understand costs are a concern to safety net hospitals like Ben Taub, 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.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.

Sincerely,

[Your Name]

 

 

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