Creating healthy retail food environments in health care facilities
Hospital workers experience an 8.6 percent higher burden of illnesses such as diabetes, congestive heart failure, hypertension, and obesity than the general U.S. workforce. Although patient meals are carefully calibrated for their nutritional profile and tailored for specific diets, food and beverages sold in hospital retail settings are often out of line with dietary recommendations. There are several possible reasons for this: a perceived consumer preference for salt, fat, and sugar, the low cost and revenue-generating capabilities of unhealthy foods, and a desire to serve “comfort foods” to outpatients and patient visitors who may be experiencing high levels of stress. Hospitals must begin to transform the types of food they offer in all settings to address the health of patients, staff, visitors, and their communities. Retail food environments are a highly visible starting place.
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