Update: Victory! In a big victory for public health, Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta just announced that it will not renew its contract with its on-site McDonald’s!
Imagine if you saw Marlboro cigarettes on display in a hospital where your loved one was being treated for lung disease. You’d be outraged. “Is this really happening in 2016?” you’d ask yourself.
It’s obvious: Hospitals should not be billboards for harmful products that cause the very diseases they’re treating.
Fortunately, that’s no longer the case with tobacco. But in hospitals across the country, children are being treated for diet-related disease on one floor and seeing the world’s most recognized junk food brand — McDonald’s — on another.
“Customers for life”
McDonald’s has spent more than any other fast food corporation marketing unhealthy junk food high in fats, salt, and sugar to children, attempting to turn them into customers for life. Its predatory marketing has directly contributed to spiraling rates of diet-related diseases like Type 2 diabetes and heart disease — diseases that increasingly affect children. It makes no sense to have McDonald’s in the same place where sick kids are being treated for diabetes and obesity.
A growing movement for change
That’s why a growing number of hospitals across the country, like Abbott Northwestern in Minneapolis and Cleveland Clinic, are taking a stand for children’s health and ending their contracts with McDonald’s. They’re seeing the writing on the wall: Junk food is the new tobacco.
It’s time for Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta to follow suit. Now is the perfect time, because its current contract with McDonald’s expires next week.
The new tobacco
Believe it or not, it was once commonplace for Big Tobacco to market and sell its deadly products to sick patients in hospitals throughout the United States. But thanks to people just like you taking action and speaking up, hospitals today are tobacco-free zones — and we can’t imagine them any other way.
Junk food is already going the way of tobacco in hospitals, as more and more health institutions stand up and kick McDonald’s out. We can keep the momentum going: With thousands of us standing together, we can move even more hospitals to be junk-food-free.
Photo credit: Joshi Radin