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Fast food restaurants at children's hospitals influence parents to feed their families unhealthy meals

Wednesday, December 06, 2006 by: Jerome Douglas
Tags: fast food, children's hospitals, children's health

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(NewsTarget) New research states that at least 59 of the nation's 250 children's hospitals have fast-food restaurants as part of their cafeteria operations. According to Dr. Hannah Sahud -- the lead researcher behind the new study -- that is a troubling phenomenon, particularly given rising obesity rates.

Dr. Sahud stated "We're giving two different messages by being in the health care profession and promoting health and saying obesity is a huge medical problem ... and then implicitly encouraging it."

At this time, about 17 percent of U.S. children are considered obese -- and many doctors think heavy consumption of calorie-laden fatty fast food is partly to blame. Dr. Sahud and her associates conducted recent research while at Chicago's Children's Memorial Hospital. That particular hospital has one McDonald's inside and another across the street.

Sahud's research concluded that parents of children who got outpatient treatment at Children's Memorial were much more likely to buy McDonald's food on the day their youngsters were treated than parents of kids treated at Chicago-area hospitals without McDonald's. Upon seeing the final results that parents of hospitalized children thought the nearby food was actually healthy, Dr. Sahud stated "I was shocked ... that they actually perceive it to be healthier."

"Hospitals should be walking the walk, not just talking the talk," said Dr. Sarah Barlow, an obesity specialist at Saint Louis University and Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center.

Children's Memorial spokeswoman Julie Pesch said the hospital chose McDonald's many years ago as a special treat for sick kids going through difficult treatment.

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