FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – Does it make sense to have a McDonald’s in the lobby of a hospital? A national organization says no and is now pushing a Fort Worth hospital to close the McDonald’s in their lobby.
The McDonald’s opened at John Peter Smith Hospital in 1992. The restaurant is one of more than 20 McDonald’s hospital locations that the group Corporate Accountability International is trying to close.
“It just sends the absolute wrong message when you have one of the world’s most recognized junk food brands in the lobby of the hospital itself,” said Corporate Accountability International spokesperson Sriram Madhusoodanan. “There’s a 2006 study that was published in a leading medical journal, Pediatrics, that concluded that by having the McDonald’s in these hospitals it was actually affecting the perception of the healthfulness of McDonald’s food.”
In the past McDonald’s has stressed that the restaurant offers a number of healthy food options. Local franchise owner Jonathan Chan is actually trying to capitalize on those options and has put a touch screen nutritional information board up at his McDonald’s in Richardson.
“We wanted to educate our consumers that McDonald’s really does have great choices, really great choices,” said Chan. “I mean, for example you can get an Egg McMuffin for under 300 calories, most people didn’t realize that.”
Madhusoodanan had this to say about the fast food giant’s alternatives, “The so called healthier offerings do a lot for McDonald’s public relations, but they really do little for families who are looking for truly healthy options.”
According to group Corporate Accountability International, over the last year a network of more than 1,900 health professionals has called on McDonald’s to stop marketing junk food to children.
In a press release statement, Dr. Francine Kaufman, former president of the American Diabetes Association, said having the fast food restaurants inside children’s hospitals is self-contradictory.
“Kids are being treated for diet-related conditions like diabetes on one floor in the hospital and given the wrong message by being offered the world’s most recognized junk food brand on another floor in the hospital.”
In 2009, Parkland Hospital in Dallas had a similar predicament as John Peter Smith. A McDonald’s restaurant had a 20-year contract for a location inside the hospital. When the contract expired Parkland accepted bids for the space and ultimately went with the UFood Grill. UFood calls itself “the unfast food” and claims to cook food “in a healthier way.”
John Peter Smith’s long-term contract with McDonald’s is due to expire next year. At that point, the hospital can consider whether to renew the contract or pursue bids from other vendors.
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