NOV 21, 2020 8:47 AM PST

Hospital patients want processed meats removed from hospital menus

A survey published in the Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy reports that most patients are in agreement that hospitals should not offer processed meats on their menus. According to the World Health Organization, processed meats such as bacon, deli meat, and sausage, are high-risk carcinogenic food, particularly for colorectal cancer. The WHO reports that one 50-gram serving a day (the equivalent of a hot dog or two strips of bacon) increases colorectal cancer risk by 18%. Consuming processed meats has also been shown to be correlated with stomach, pancreatic, prostate, and breast cancers, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes.

Given this, it makes sense why hospital patients don’t want hospitals to deliver them this high-risk bacon on a golden platter (well, maybe more like plastic) on their recovery beds. In a total of 200 patients surveyed in two Washington, D.C., hospitals, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that:

- 83% of patients would like hospitals to eliminate processed meat on hospital menus in order to reduce cancer risk.

- 69% of patients do not think it matters whether or not hospitals have bacon or sausage on the menu.

"Health experts have called on hospitals to eliminate processed meat from their menus to reduce the risk of cancer and cardiovascular disease," says Neal Barnard, MD, study author and president of the Physicians Committee. "Now it's clear that patients overwhelmingly agree that they'd like to see healthy food on their hospital trays."

This survey comes following The Healthy Hospitals Amendment Act, proposed in 2019 by D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh as a way to require hospitals in the district to enhance their menus’ nutritional quality by getting rid of processed meats, reducing sugar-sweetened beverages, and providing plant-based alternatives.

Photo: Pexels

"It's not uncommon for patients to wake up from surgery to be greeted with bacon and sausage--the very foods that may have contributed to their health problems in the first place," says Dr. Barnard. "It's time to create a healthier food environment."

If The Healthy Hospitals Amendment Act is passed, it would become the first bill in the country to require the elimination of processed meats from hospitals.

Sources: Journal of Hospital Management and Health Policy, Eureka Alert

About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
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