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Prognosis Grim for McDonald's Restaurants in Hospitals

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, April 16, 2012

"As always, we continue to assess our menu and actively engage in dialogue with experts to determine opportunities to offer expanded menu choices and additional information and education that enable our customers to make the choices that are right for them," Proud says.

Comparing McDonald's to the tobacco industry is a stretch. Nonetheless, CAI has resuscitated longstanding and legitimate concerns about the appropriateness of fast-food restaurants situated on hospital campuses at a time when more than 60% of Americans are overweight or obese.

In fact, many hospital administrators probably have already reached that conclusion. That's why we shouldn't be surprised if these 26 hospitals quietly look for other food vendors when it's time to renew franchise leases. It's likely that within 10 years McDonald's will have no hospital-based restaurants.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in the nation to have an on-site McDonald's. The Nashville, TN-based health system let its long-term lease with McDonald's lapse in January 2011 after a 20-year relationship and signed Au Bon Pain as a new tenant. John Howser, VUMC director of media relations, says pressure from CAI or other outside groups was not a factor in the decision to part with McDonald's.

"Ultimately what this came down to was a desire to offer a segment of our workforce and our visitors who would use this particular venue a broader array of food options," Howser says. "We already have a grill in our cafeteria in our clinic where hamburgers are available."

Cleveland Clinic spokeswoman Eileen Sheil says the blue chip health system will not renew its soon-to-expire lease with McDonald's. The decision is consistent with the comments and actions of Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove, MD, who created a stir in 2009 when he said in an interview that he would not hire obese people if it were legal.

Sheil tells HealthLeaders Media that "Cleveland Clinic as a healthcare institution tries hard to walk the talk in healthcare."

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3 comments on "Prognosis Grim for McDonald's Restaurants in Hospitals"


Harold Vann, MD (4/19/2012 at 12:35 PM)
Having a McDonalds on campus where sick people visit permits them to bring their health promotion "mind set" to their choosing the most healthy food sold there. So, it is an opportunity for practicing healthy choices. Bring on more fast food outlets to hospital campuses.

Anon (4/16/2012 at 2:55 PM)
Seriously, this group should look into what the schools are feeding our kids. 22 hospital out of 5,500 in the US has a McDonalds. But our kids get 15-30 meals a day at school. That is where the problem is.

Molly (4/16/2012 at 2:34 PM)
The obese are the obvious health problems.... in the last week I have dealt with drug use, anorexia, bulemia, liver failure and COPD and every person was of "normal or under weight". If placed in a line up, Dr. Cosgrove, Cleveland Clinic, would chose them first? Are the obese the first group to be openly hated (legally) in our society?