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Time to Eliminate Sugary Brands from Healthcare

   December 16, 2015

When hospitals and healthcare organizations affiliate with fast food, their public health reputation is undermined. Here are two eye-opening examples.

Blood sugar-spiking treats are unavoidable during the holiday season, but the healthcare community and general public agree that unhealthy brands shouldn't have a place in hospitals and health systems. So why does it keep happening?

Leslie Nelson

Hospitals have made great strides toward eliminating unhealthy foods from their facilities in 2015. Last spring, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine called out several hospitals and health systems with fast food contracts and many have taken action.

However, due to poor judgment and a lack of foresight, some hospitals are still aligning themselves with high-calorie brands.

Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic
No, really.

UNC Children's Hospital in Raleigh, NC, says it is rethinking the decision to name its pediatric outpatient clinic the "Krispy Kreme Challenge Children's Specialty Clinic," which is funny, because "rethinking" implies they gave it some thought in the first place.

The circumstances leading up to this name choice is somewhat convoluted. The Krispy Kreme Challenge is an annual five-mile race that North Carolina State University students created about ten years ago. At the halfway point—which is marked by a Krispy Kreme store—runners are challenged to eat a dozen doughnuts before completing the race. As you can imagine, the second leg of the run gets pretty gross.

While the race started as some lighthearted college shenanigans, it grew in popularity and became a charity event, with proceeds going to UNC Children's Hospital. In 2015, more than 8,000 runners participated. After learning that, you can begin to understand why the hospital wanted to celebrate the event by naming its children's clinic after it.

But get this: Krispy Kreme isn't officially affiliated with the race or UNC Health Care. All the company did was give the students permission to use its name in the title of the race. Krispy Kreme doesn't even donate the doughtnuts.

"The corporation is definitely not part of the name," Leslie Nelson, head of fundraising and communications at UNC Children's Hospital, told NPR. "It's named for a race! The name of the doughnut happens to be in the name of the race. But at the heart of it, it's about the race and about these kids."

Marianne Aiello is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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