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Want Fries With Your Bypass Surgery?

An advocacy group is calling on hospitals to remove McDonald’s from dining areas.

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When you’re wheeled into the emergency room with your first heart attack from eating too much fast food, it will be comforting to know that many hospitals still have a McDonald’s in their dining area. This might not be the case for much longer, if an advocacy group has its way. In a letter to almost two dozen U.S. hospitals, Corporate Accountability International called on medical institutions to kick out McDonald’s and "stop fostering a food environment that promotes harm, not health." The group, which is also leading a campaign to get McDonald’s to stop marketing to kids, says that it doesn’t make sense to offer fast food in the same space that is devoted to helping children get healthy. They cite a 2006 study in the journal Pediatrics that found that having a McDonald’s in a hospital affects how much fast food people eat on the day of their visit. A hospital location for the chain also increased visitors’ perception of McDonald’s “healthfulness,” making this an effective part of its marketing strategy. The group told USA Today that it hears from doctors about parents taking their children for fast food after a diabetic check-up, saying things like, “If you are well-behaved, we'll take you for a treat at the McDonald's down the hall.” McDonald’s is not the only fast food chain operating in hospitals, but it was singled out because of its size. The company currently has 27 outlets operating in hospitals, down nine since 2005. It’s unclear how much impact the letter will have, since McDonald’s has long-term contracts with some institutions, making this a poor prognosis for its surgical removal from the hospitals.

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