HOUSTON--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Texas Children’s Hospital currently hosts a Chick-fil-A Express and a McDonald’s restaurant, and two Houston-area physicians joined other concerned citizens to protest and hold signs urging the hospital to go #FastFoodFree. Three protesters in chicken costumes parodied the Chick-fil-A ads with signs that proclaimed “Eat More Chickpeas!” The protest took place Oct. 23, and it was sponsored by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine—a nonprofit with 12,000 doctor members including 579 in Texas.
The Physicians Committee also filed a complaint on Oct. 22 with the Health Authority of the Houston Health Department, David Persse, MD. As part of its program to improve “access to healthy foods” to reduce diet-related diseases like diabetes, the Houston Health Department should advise Texas Children’s Hospital to offer flavorful, affordable plant-based meals. The Physicians Committee has also written to Texas Children’s Hospital CEO Mark Wallace.
“Tasty and affordable meals that include chickpeas and other plant-based foods can help people prevent and even reverse diabetes, heart disease, and high blood pressure, among other benefits,” says Minh Nguyen, MS, RD, of the Physicians Committee. “In Texas, the rates of diet-related diseases like diabetes are too high, and Texas Children’s Hospital can help save lives by promoting fruits, veggies, beans, and whole grains.” Chicken is a source of unhealthful saturated fat and cholesterol, while chickpeas are low in fat and contain zero cholesterol.
Several hospitals have recently closed McDonald’s restaurants including Grady Hospital in Atlanta and Ben Taub Hospital in Houston. Saint Agnes Hospital in Baltimore and other hospitals have closed Chick-fil-A restaurants. The Physicians Committee maintains a list of hospitals that host fast-food restaurants, and it provides that information to people who visit www.MakeHospitalsHealthy.org. About 10 hospitals host McDonald’s restaurants and about 18 offer Chick-fil-A meals, including MD Anderson Cancer Center.
A study published in the journal Circulation found that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent.
Research from the Black Women’s Health Study found that eating two or more servings a week of restaurant hamburgers increases the risk of diabetes by 40 percent and that two or more servings of fried chicken a week increases the risk of diabetes by 68 percent.
Patients and health care providers are often concerned that healthful foods are more expensive, but St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, Calif., reports, “Vegetarian entrées cost about 50 percent less than meat entrées.” The hospital projects saving $5,000 a year by serving more meat-free meals.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research and medical training.