Hospitals for Healthier Eating
At CAMA we explore how the design of the built environment influences our health and wellbeing. In this installment, we take an in-depth look at how the Hospital Healthy Food Initiative sponsored by The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) is changing how hospitals purchase, prepare, serve, and display food.
New projections from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation show soaring adult obesity rates across the country between now and 2030. Related diseases including type 2 diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, hypertension and arthritis could increase ten times between 2010 and 2020–and double again by 2030. In the wake of such troubling national health statistics, the fried food and calorie-laden sides and snacks typically found in hospital cafeterias have come under scrutiny by nutrition advocacy groups. Many hospitals have terminated contracts with fast food vendors and have revamped menus in an effort to provide more heart-healthy alternatives. Other institutions have completely transformed their food offerings recognizing their instrumental role in promoting healthier eating habits and improving overall community wellness.
Hospital Healthy Food Initiative
A number of hospitals including Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Cleveland Clinic, and Kaiser Permanente have embraced the Hospital Healthy Food Initiative sponsored by The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA). Since 2012, PHA has partnered with numerous hospitals and hospital food providers across the country in an effort to improve the nutrition of patient meals and cafeteria food options. Facilities commit to implementing changes over three years that include:
Wellness Meals – Offer a daily wellness meal that meets healthy nutrition standards and is priced less than or equal to other available meal options, and increase the number of wellness meals by one each year.
Children’s Wellness Meal – Offer a daily children’s wellness meal that meets healthy nutrition standards and is priced less than or equal to other available meal options.
Overall Cafeteria Offerings – Sixty percent of all a la carte entrees and side dishes meet nutrition standards.
Healthy Check Out – Display only health-promoting food options within 5 feet of cash register stations.
Nutrition Labeling and Marketing – Label items with calories per serving and display only health-promoting food options.
Food Preparation – Remove all fryers and deep fat-fried products.
Fruits and Vegetables – Increase the percentage of fruits and vegetables purchased by the hospital by 20 percent annually or ensure that fruits and vegetables account for at least 10 percent of total food purchased by the hospital.
Beverages – Increase the percentage of better-for-you beverages purchased by the hospital (e.g., water, 100 percent fruit and vegetable juice, unflavored milk, teas and coffee) to 80 percent of overall beverage purchases. Additionally, there will be tap water available where possible.
- Lesser,L.I, Hunnes, D.E, Reyes, P., Arab, L., Ryan, G.W., Brook, R.H., Cohen, D.A. (2012 January). Assessment of Food Offerings and Marketing Strategies in the Food-Service Venues at California Children’s Hospitals. Academic Pediatrics, 12, 62-67.
- The Partnership for a Healthier America. Hospital Healthy Food Initiative.
- RWJF - Robert Wood Johnson Foundation & Trust for America’s Health (2012 September). F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America’s Future 2012. Issue Report.