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February 4, 2017

Mountain Dew? Doritos? In a Hospital?

by Anne Paddock

Recently, I spent several hours at the JFK Medical Center in Atlantis, Florida where a friend was being treated. The waiting room was filled with family and friends who had very few options while waiting for news of their loved ones. In one corner of the room was a coffee maker and a basket full of  Otis Spunkmeyer Blueberry Muffins (which earned a D+ from for its 19 grams of sugar, 9 grams of fat, and 270 mg of sodium) while in the other corner were two vending machines.

The Pepsi vending machine contained 12 options for $1.75 each: 4 Mountain Dew, 3 Pepsi, 1 Dr. Pepper, 2 Diet Pepsi, and  2 water.Pepsi_Machine_JFK_Medical_Center

The snack vending machine offered 35 options For $1.50 -$2.25 each:Snack_Vending_Machine_JFK_MEdical_Center

  • Lays Potato Chips
  • Ruffles Potato Chips
  • LuLu Platanitas Grain Chips Salted
  • LuLu Platanitas Grain Chips Salted
  • Wheat Thins Veggie Flavor
  • Doritos
  • Doritos Ranch
  • Sun Chips Garden Salsa
  • Snack Chips
  • Stacey’s Pita Chips
  • Cheetos
  • Fritos
  • Cheez It Crackers
  • Kettle Cooked Mesquite BBQ Chips
  • Cheetos Puffs
  • Grandma’s Sandwich Cookies
  • Grandma’s Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • Honey Bun
  • Cinnamon Roll
  • Jack Links Tender Cuts
  • Snickers
  • M & M’s Peanut
  • Planter’s Peanuts
  • Munchies Crackers
  • Twizzler’s
  • Luna Lemon Bar
  • Nature’s Valley Oats n’ Honey Granola Bar
  • Welch’s Fruit Snack
  • Skittles
  • Twix Bars
  • Original Trail Mix
  • Nut n’ Yogurt Trail Mix
  • Altoids
  • Rice Krispies Treat
  • Pop Tarts

The bottom line is there are 12 refreshments offered in the vending machine, 10 (or 83%) of which are sugary or diet sodas filled with additives. The snack machine offers 35 options, 30 (or 86%) of which are overly processed snack foods filled with sugar, salt, and additives, and 5 (or 14%) of which are better but contain too much sodium and/or added sugar in the form of cane syrup, brown rice syrup, glucose syrup, or vegetable glycerin.

The irony of sitting in a surgical waiting room with nearly 9 out of 10 options considered junk is reprehensible. Hospitals should be setting an example and not ensuring repeat business by offering crappy food and drink choices that contribute to the national obesity, hypertension and Type II diabetes epidemic. I don’t know who is more shameful – Pepsi and the snack machine vendor – or the hospital for not providing healthier choices. Certainly at $1.75 per drink and $1.50-$2.25 per snack, healthier options can be offered.

So, what can you do? Two things:  first, don’t buy this garbage and second, contact the local hospital administration and lodge a complaint. Click here to contact JFK Medical Center. I used the contact form and received a positive response with the admission that  a hospital known for cardiac care should do better. So, don’t underestimate the power of communication. Change may take years (remember, cigarettes used to be sold in hospitals) but it won’t happen unless we demand it.

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