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Fast Food Common in Hospitals with Pediatric Programs

Fifty-six percent of visitors eat fast food if McDonald's is on-site compared with 33 percent if not

MONDAY, Dec. 4 (HealthDay News) -- A new study finds that fast-food restaurants are common in hospitals that sponsor pediatric residency programs, and that adults taking children to outpatient visits at such hospitals are more likely to consume fast food than those at other hospitals, according to a report in the December issue of Pediatrics.

Hannah B. Sahud, M.D., of Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, and colleagues surveyed hospitals with pediatric residency programs to determine the presence of fast-food restaurants. Parents of children were surveyed after outpatient visits at hospitals with either an on-site McDonald's or McDonald's branding, or without McDonald's food.

The investigators found that 59 of 200 hospitals (29.5 percent) with pediatric residencies had fast-food restaurants. Fast-food purchases were common among visitors of these hospitals, including those with McDonald's restaurants. Parents whose children were at hospitals with an on-site McDonald's were four times as likely to purchase McDonald's food and gave McDonald's food a higher healthiness rating than parents visiting other hospitals.

"In the midst of increasing rates of childhood obesity, efforts are needed to balance the dietary choices and social messages consequent to the presence of fast-food restaurants in children's hospitals," the authors write. "The presence of fast-food restaurants in children's hospitals should be reconsidered."

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