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Hospitals Serve Up Healthy Food

(from the October 2019 ACP Hospitalist)

Clinicians strive to improve nutrition inside and outside of the hospital.

By Mollie Frost

Hospital food is historically known for being unsavory, not to mention unhealthy.

“We have that reputation of ‘hospital food’ for a reason. Just like a lot of other big industries where you have to feed a lot of people, you tend to look for the most economical products, and the more inexpensive food is not always the healthiest food,” said Lisa McDowell, MS, RD, director of clinical nutrition and wellness at St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor Hospital in Michigan.

However, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and other hospitals and health systems are trying to change this reputation, according to the 2016 Healthy Food in Health Care survey conducted by Health Care Without Harm, an international campaign for environmentally responsible health care.

Of 325 U.S. hospitals, 57% reported reducing the amount of meat they serve, 82% reported purchasing locally produced foods, and 21% reported investing in farms and gardens for their own food service. The hospitals were part of the Health Care Without Harm and Practice Greenhealth network, which represents one-third of U.S. hospitals, said Stacia Clinton, RD, national program director for the Healthy Food in Health Care program.

There are two trends at work. While hospitals are changing the food that's served to patients, staff, and visitors, they're also newly focused on improving nutrition and public health outside their walls, Ms. Clinton said. Physicians and dietitians explained how and why health systems are digging deeper into the connections between food and health.

Read the full article in ACP Hospitalist.

ACP Hospitalist provides news and information about hospital medicine, covering the latest trends and issues in the field.

Back to the November 2019 issue of ACP IMpact