Can Good Hospital Food Speed Recovery?

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Can good hospital food speed recovery?

A recent documentary ranked the nutritional value of the food in the average American hospital on the same level as fast food at restaurants such as McDonalds.

While jokes abound about bad hospital food (who hasn’t complained about it in the same breath as airline food), a real shift in the quality – in terms of both taste and nutritional value – started between 2002 and 2005 as a result of some key surveys and reports that suggested what many have long-suspected: Good quality hospital food helps patients heal faster.

That year (2005), the Washington DC-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine commissioned a study entitled A survey and analysis of food served at hospitals by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine and ADinfinitum, Inc which showed that the majority of the 40 U.S. hospitals surveyed were starting to try to offer some sort of health-promoting food choices, though “substantial opportunities for improvement remain.”

Fast food on the road to recovery??

17% of the hospitals surveyed had a fast-food establishment operating on the premises and many entrées described as “healthful” by hospitals were actually quite high in fat: In 62% of these “healthy entrées” more than 30% of the calories in some of these offerings were fat… a few were more than 50%.

In many hospitals surveyed, despite claims to the contrary, patients reported that it was tough-to-impossible for them to find a low-fat, low-cholesterol meal anywhere in the building.

More encouragingly, the study also found that 80% of surveyed hospitals reported that they offer whole-grain products, sugar-free snacks, fresh fruit, and a daily offering of a low-fat entrée or side dish.

But the mission is far from accomplished:

The campaign to get real food into hospitals

Just last year, June Copeman, head of nutrition and dietetics at Leeds Metropolitan University in the UK suggested to the web site Apitito that patients who are encouraged to eat and drink appropriately are more likely to heal at a faster rate than those who don’t consume healthy food while in the hospital.

She explained that it’s especially crucial for older people to eat all the hospital food they are given for the life-sustaining, aiment-fighting energy the meals provide.

Hospital Food: The Documentary

Further to this, UK journalist Mark Sparrow has produced a well-researched and eye-opening documentary on hospital food in the Western World, based on the 10 weeks he spent in traction in 2010.

He claims that the food in some such institutions has less nutritional value and higher levels of fat and refined sugar than those found in nearby prisons.

Though largely balanced, his claims skew a tad in favor of taking the system to task (and is based on examples largely from the UK, through American hospitals are cited both the documentary and his blog), it’s interesting to consider and well-worth taking note of.

If of interest, check out the blog at: http://www.hospitalnotes.blogspot.com

 

You can watch the documentary here (be warned this is geoblocked for those not presenting a UK IP address): http://www.channel4.com/programmes/dispatches/articles/hospital-food-video-interview

 
So what do you think about how your local hospital is doing when it comes to nutrition?

Weigh-in below…

 

 

More:

The full PCRM survey results: http://www.pcrm.org/health/reports/hospital_food05/tables.html#1

Another hospital food study (albeit another one out of the UK) http://www.bapen.org.uk/res_bhfi_treatment.html

Imagery of hospital food from 11 different countries

http://nowthatsnifty.blogspot.com/2009/06/hospital-food-from-11-different.html

A look at some hospitals serving up home-cooked food from scratch in one of our previous blogs:

http://blog.soliant.com/healthcare-news/12-innovative-hospitals-doing-things-a-little-different-than-most/

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The Scarification of Cigarettes

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Dry little warnings printed on the package didn’t do the job. Thirty years of dire public service announcements didn’t get it done, either. Education isn’t working, even though the statistics should be enough to ensure nobody ever smokes again, anywhere on earth. Despite all this effort, and despite the fact that 5.4 million people die as a direct result of smoking each year, people still smoke.

Think about that for a minute. Smoke doesn’t taste good, at least not at first. On the contrary, for most people, smoking is pretty unpleasant at first. It hurts your lungs, stings your eyes, and makes you do some pretty uncool coughing. It leaves a nasty taste in your mouth and a nasty lingering odor on your clothes. And yet people continue. The first time is understandable. You’re a kid, your friends do it, you want to conform, to look more grown up, to be cool. It’s the persistence that baffles me.

The FDA has recently taken a new approach to inform people about how deadly smoking is. Since you might not have a timely reminder when you’re lighting up, new packaging will feature graphic, in-your-face ads depicting the dangers and consequences of smoking. Next year, smokers will tap cigarettes out of packages that look like this:

The FDA hopes that the timing of these graphic messages, delivered in the moment a smoker decides to light up, will act as a deterrent. Other images include a man presumably dead with post-autopsy staples, a grief-stricken woman with a message that nonsmokers are also at risk, and blackened, diseased lungs on a split screen with pink, healthy lungs. A total of nine images were chosen to represent different aspects of smoking. One depicts a quitter opening a button up shirt like Superman to proudly display a tee shirt emblazoned with “I Quit” under a no-smoking icon. The graphics will be displayed on the top half of each cigarette package, front and back. They will also be displayed on all cigarette advertising.

The new graphic labels will hit the shelves in September of 2012, and the FDA hopes to see a reduction of 213,000 smokers 2013, and smaller numbers dropping out each year after. However, this prediction is not without detractors. Some research indicates that the graphic pictures may reinforce the habit for smokers whose self-esteem is identified with smoker’s image.

A similar program is working in Canada, but not as well as predicted, possibly because there aren’t enough government-sponsored smoking cessation programs.

Not surprisingly, the big tobacco companies aren’t exactly jumping for joy. R.J. Reynolds has filed a lawsuit charging that the warning labels constitute an affront to their constitutional right to free speech.

Twenty years ago, Dennis Leary, comedian and dedicated smoker, pointed out that smokers have an amazing ability to ignore warnings. His spot-on comedy routine included this pearl of wisdom:

“You could have cigarettes that come in a black pack with a skull and crossbones on the front called “Tumors,” and smokers would line up around the block saying, “I can’t wait to get my hands on these [bleeping] things.””

What do you think? Will smokers pick up a pack, look at the picture on the package, and decide to chew gum instead? And just as interestingly, what will this reveal about the true power of advertising? How often do we see violent video games and music marketed to youths and cited in incidences of violence? If graphic images serve as effective deterrents on cigarette packaging, will the results spill over to other markets? Should be interesting, however it shakes out.

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Can Good Hospital Food Speed Recovery?

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Fresh Beef WellingtonA recent documentary ranked the nutritional value of the food in the average American hospital on the same level as fast food at restaurants such as McDonalds.

While jokes abound about bad hospital food (who hasn’t complained about it in the same breath as airline food), a real shift in the quality – in terms of both taste and nutritional value – started between 2002 and 2005 as a result of some key surveys and reports that suggested what many have long-suspected: Good quality hospital food helps patients heal faster. Continue reading “Can Good Hospital Food Speed Recovery?”

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Make Your Nominations for the 2011 Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S.

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For the third year in a row, Soliant is opening the nominations for the most beautiful hospital in the United States. Last year’s entries were absolutely stunning examples of awe-inspiring architecture and design. If you work in a  beautiful hospital or live in a town with a beautiful hospital, this is your chance to share it with the world! Continue reading “Make Your Nominations for the 2011 Top 20 Most Beautiful Hospitals in the U.S.”

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11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set

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11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set

A few months ago, we wrote a post called 11 Certifications To Expand Your Skill Set.

In your comments, questions, Tweets and emails, you asked for more. And we’re ready to deliver.

Here are 11 more interesting medical certifications you might not have thought of:
Continue reading “11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set”

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11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set

 on
11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set

A few months ago, we wrote a post called 11 Certifications To Expand Your Skill Set.

In your comments, questions, Tweets and emails, you asked for more. And we’re ready to deliver.

Here are 11 more interesting medical certifications you might not have thought of:
Continue reading “11 More Certifications to Expand Your Skill Set”

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