US health experts are calling on hospitals to serve plant-based meals - and to cut out processed meats.
The American Medical Association - the largest association of physicians and medical students in the United States - wants to see an improvement in the health of patients, staff, and visitors - and has adopted a resolution to that end.
The AMA's House of Delegates believes this can be achieved by providing a variety of healthy food - including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars, eliminating processed meats from menus, and providing and promoting healthy drinks.
The resolution was co-sponsored by the Medical Society of the District of Columbia and the American College of Cardiology.
Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, N.Y., follows most of the advice outlined by the AMA.
The hospital provides patients with vegetables from its rooftop garden and features healthy plant-based options on its patient menu. According to reports, the hospital's head chef has banned bacon, fizzy drinks and hot dogs.
And this approach seems to be working. In the Physicians Committee - a nonprofit of 12,000 doctors - 2016 Hospital Food Report, Stony Brook University Hospital and Aspen Valley Hospital were tied for the top Patient Food Score.
Earlier this year, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson, Miss., announced it would remove hot dogs from its patient menus. This places the four hospitals on the UMMC campus on the path toward compliance with the AMA’s recommendation on processed meat.
Raising awareness about the health risks of these types of food was a key part in prompting this change: Physicians Committee placed a billboard near UMMC's Batson Children’s Hospital and sent a letter urging the hospital to protect patients from #HazardousHotDogs.
Mississippi is in what's know as the 'colon cancer corridor' - a cluster of nine states with high death rates from colorectal cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In addition to the billboard in Mississippi, Physicians Committee placed hard-hitting billboards and other advertisements near several other children’s hospitals located in the colon cancer corridor. The American Academy of Pediatrics, Louisiana chapter, tweeted its support of this initiative.
The AMA's resolution is back by numerous studies that suggest that healthy plant-based meals can prevent and even reverse conditions including heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
In addition, the AMA’s second recommendation, to remove processed meat from menus, is also supported by strong scientific evidence. The World Health Organization warns that processed meats, including hot dogs, and bacon, are “carcinogenic to humans” and there is no amount safe for consumption.
“Hospitals that provide and promote fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are likely to reduce readmissions, speed recovery times, and measurably improve the long-term health of visitors, patients, and staff,” says James Loomis, M.D., M.B.A., medical director of the Barnard Medical Center.