Encouraging Healthy Eating in Hospitalized Children

Full Text (from J Peds twitter feed): All Aboard Meal Train: Can Child-Friendly Menu Labeling Promote Healthier Choices in Hospitals?  S Basak et al. J Pediatr 2019; 204: 59-65

Conclusion: “The combination of menu labeling techniques targeted to children in the inpatient hospital setting was an effective short-term tool for increasing the intake of healthier foods, although the effect of labeling waned over time.”

From the discussion: “Our findings in this study show a significantly higher odds of ordering green-light healthier option foods and lower odds of ordering red-light foods when exposed to child-friendly menu labeling. This effect waned over time, such that after 8 meals, proportions of red-light and green-light choices were similar with both menus…

Although most children’s hospital food environments include food items that have low nutritional value, this study highlights that nutrition education using menu labeling can be successfully implemented and can encourage children and their families to make healthier choices. It is our hope that labeling may also encourage hospital food providers to improve food quality at the hospital by decreasing red-light foods and increasing healthy food options at every meal. More research is needed to determine optimal techniques for various age ranges and develop menus that are age-appropriate and tailored for specific patient populations.”

My take: 1. This study from Sick Children’s is important.  We can determine more effective healthy eating strategies on a ‘captive’ audience.  2. I remember several years ago when one of my partners ruffled some feathers by asking the hospital to reconsider promoting sugar-sweetened beverages while at the same time posting billboards of obese children.

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In the News: UCSF Soda Ban

NY Times: Putting Sugary Soda Out of Reach

An excerpt:

Last year, U.C.S.F. removed sugar-sweetened beverages from every store, food truck and vending machine on its campus. Even popular fast-food chains on the campus, like Subway and Panda Express, have stopped selling Sprite, Coca-Cola and their sugary brethren at the university’s request….

“We’re a public health institution, and there’s something not right about us making money off of products that we know are making people sick,” said Laura Schmidt, a professor at the medical school who spearheaded the beverage initiative…

Nationwide, at least 30 medical centers have restricted the sale of soda and full-calorie sports drinks, including the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and the University of Michigan Health System…

the beverage industry argues that the strategy is flawed. It points out that obesity rates have been climbing even as America’s soda intake has declined in recent years. And it says that focusing blame on soda alone, rather than calories from all foods, is misguided.

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