Friday, October 5, 2012

New York hospitals face junk food ban

Nearly two weeks after getting the nod for a ban on sugary, super-sized colas in almost all public eateries, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has set his sights on banning sugary and fatty foods from both private and public hospitals in the city.
“If there’s any place that should not allow smoking and try to make you eat healthy, you would think it’d be the hospitals,” he said, while announcing the initiative.
Hospitals, which have already signed up to the Healthy Hospital Food initiative, said it would be hypocritical of them to serve unhealthy food to patients who are often suffering from obesity and other health problems.
But sadly enough, the fact remains that most people, who visit hospitals, are already in such a distressed state that they easily fall prey to “emotional eating”, which usually involves “comfort” or junk foods.
It is an established fact that emotions, most often, dictate our diet with the result that depression, anxiety, frustration and stress can often result in overeating and unwanted weight gain.
Gorging on junk food seems to be some form of a coping mechanism, according to an Australian study.
For instance, when you are happy, you tend to opt for steak or pizza; when you are sad, your choice could be ice cream or cookies and when you are bored, you could reach out for potato chips.
Not healthy choices, by a long chance!
And, as New York’s health department’s director of nutrition strategy Christine Curtis, pointed out: “People sometimes don’t have healthy options. So you are there at 2 in the morning and maybe your only choice is soda and chips.”
A report recently said that, if the current rates of obesity rise continue, by 2030 more than half the population of the United States will be obese.
The new crackdown in hospitals will:
  • Ban deep fryers;
  • Make leafy green salads a mandatory option;
  • Allow only healthy snacks to be stocked near the cafeteria entrance and at cash registers;
  • Ensure half of all sandwiches and salads are made or served with whole grains;
  • Ensure that half-size sandwich portions are available.
The move, though voluntary, has its critics.
For instance, Brooklyn Hospital Centre president and CEO Richard B. Becker said that visitors to the emergency room of his hospital prefer the junk food-filled vending machines to healthy snacks.
In times of crisis, he reasoned, most people prefer something “delicious” like junk food rather than some nutritious alternatives.
Other critics have pointed to Bloomberg’s new measure as another evidence of his intention of turning New York into a “nanny state”.
Most hospital have, however, overhauled their vending machines by allowing only two types of 12-ounce high-calories beverages at each vending machine – and they must be featured on the lowest rack. Most vending machines have also phased out most baked good for snacks like granola bars and nuts.

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