UCLA Researchers Investigate Offerings of Healthy Foods in Children Hospitals
Hospital cafeterias seem to be taking an effort to add healthier foods to their cafeterias. Many hospitals have done away with a number of fried and unhealthier food options. They are making more room for salad bars and other healthier items. A team of researchers at the University of California at Los Angeles has decided to research how these changes are being implemented.
Critics argue that these responses may not be an effective way to force people to change patient’s choices in foods. The UCLA study found their concerns to be validated. The researchers learned that many hospitals were making significant changes to their menus. Yet, they weren’t doing nearly as much to encourage patients, hospital employees or visitors to make healthier decisions about what they ate.
The study looked into the cafeterias at the 14 largest children’s hospitals in California. The researchers ranked the results of the nutritional value on the hospital menus from 0 to 37. The scale took a variety of factors into consideration. They gave points to hospitals that offered low-fat milk or non-fried vegetables in their cafeteria. They also gave points to hospitals that went to extra efforts to encourage people to eat those foods. They also deducted points from hospitals that didn’t promote those foods.
The average score was a mediocre 19. Researchers felt that much more could be done to promote healthy dietary habits in children’s hospitals.
UCLA’s Dr. Lenard Lesser, the lead author of the study said that cafeterias in children’s hospitals should an example for healthy eating. They should be doing everything they can to encourage people to eat as healthily as possible. Nutritional experts throughout the region contend that Lesser’s point that hospital cafeterias need to change their approach is right on the money.
Some hospitals have made significant changes recently. For example, Moffitt Cafe, the cafeteria in the University of California in San Francisco, has completely renovated its building and made major changes to its menu since the study was conducted. Two other hospitals have also revamped their menus in the past few years and continue to prioritize the nutritional. However, the study’s authors and other health experts in the area are still concerned over these hospitals’ menus.
[box]A lot of the problem stems from basic economics. Cafeterias are a source of revenue and want to provide customers with the foods they want. Nevertheless, hospital administrators insist they want to make encouraging healthy diets a priority to anyone who visits, works or stays at their facilities.[/box]