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Jackson, Broward General, Memorial Regional Hospitals Asked To Kick Out McDonald's

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Floors below cardiac surgeons fixing clogged hearts are the very high-caloric Big Macs that likely contributed to the patients' artery-clogging plaque. That's right, plenty of hospitals house McDonald's, including 3 in South Florida.

But the consumer group Corporate Accountability International wants to stop the blatant irrationality of offering the very junk food that sends patients under the knife or worse yet, under the ground.

Last week, the group sent all U.S. hospitals with a McDonald's a letter, petitioning them to break their contracts with the fast food chain. See the full letter here.

Out of the 22 hospitals, 3 are in South Florida: Broward General Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Memorial Regional Hospital in Hollywood, Jackson Memorial in Miami.

In the letter, CAI acknowledges the current state of childhood obesity:

Today, private practices, pediatric clinics, and emergency rooms are increasingly bearing witness to children suffering from preventable chronic conditions related to the food they eat. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the decades to come, one in three children will develop type 2 diabetes as a result of diets high in McDonald’s-style junk food. And experts say that this generation may be the first in U.S. history to live shorter lives than their parents due to poor diets.

CAI also notes the $147 billion drain on the health care industry, citing all the millions that are wasted on conditions that are preventable through better nutrition.

Also in the letter, CAI is quick to point out what they see as the Golden Arches' deliberate role in the country's declining health: "It’s really no surprise McDonald’s sites stores in hospitals. After all, for decades, McDonald’s has attempted to coopt the health community, to deflect blame for the epidemic of disease that it has helped drive, and to pose itself as part of the solution."

The Sun Sentinel reports that 2,000 medical professionals, including 17 in South Florida, have signed the group's Value [the] Meal campaign oppose McDonald's marketing to children, including locations in hospitals.

The group's Value [the] Meal campaign is particularly key in South Florida, as Miami has 3 times the amount of fast food restaurants within its borders as the national city average.

Last year, the 305 ranked fourth in the country for cities with the highest concentration of fast food options. The rest of Florida fared just as bad: Orlando ranked in at number 1 and Tampa at number 6.

"In this free country McDonald's has a right to sell food at the healthy end of the junk-food spectrum, and every individual has a right to eat it," noted Donella H. Meadows, professor of environmental studies at Dartmouth College. "But not, it seems to me, in a place whose central purpose is, or ought to be, the promotion of health."

A 2006 study in Pediatrics found that in hospitals with McDonalds, visitors were 4 times as likely to consume fast food than at other hospitals, visitors assumed that the McDonald's was helping to fund the hospital, and they rated the McDonald's food as healthier than visitors queried at other hospitals.

However the Golden Arches' charity makes it a complicated issue. Both Broward General and Jackson Memorial Hospital have Ronald McDonald Houses, which provide free or affordable accommodations to the parents of sick children, according to the Miami Herald.

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