we know that a single fatty meal compromises coronary flow. This
is true even in young people. Arteries are crying for oxygen; you
can see it with a scan 5 minutes later; 120 minutes later, the effects
are still obvious." - Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Chief of Surgery,
is happening at the Cleveland Clinic, the world's largest heart
surgery hospital. More bypasses, angioplasty, heart implants, and
various cardiovascular surgeries are performed at the Cleveland
Clinic than anywhere else in the world, so there is great irony
in the fact that the hospital's lobby contains a fast food McDonald's
restaurant serving more than 500,000 meals each year.
Some refer to
the Cleveland Clinic as "Heart Attack City."
More than 1,000
physicians are on staff at the Cleveland Clinic, representing 120
specialties. Imagine what their waiting room looks like. In 2004
more than 2 million patients will be seen (5,500 per day), and 50,000
admitted to this facility which contains nearly 3,000 beds. That
represents plenty of sick Americans.
following article appeared in yesterday's Washington Post (December
Head of Cleveland
Clinic Is Attacking Big Mac and in Hospital Lobby, McDonald's Fights
by Ceci Connolly
The Pizza Hut is shuttered, its neon sign collecting dust on the
floor. But knocking down the Golden Arches has proved far more difficult
for Toby Cosgrove, the new head of the Cleveland Clinic.
A heart surgeon
who has cleaned out a career's worth of clogged arteries, Cosgrove
didn't think Big Macs, supersized fries and inch-thick, six-cheese
pizzas belonged in the lobby of a hospital renowned for its cardiac
care. So he decreed the fast-food joints had to go.
Pizza Hut went
quietly. But McDonald's, halfway through a 20-year lease, has refused
to shut down a franchise that serves 12,000 doctors, nurses, janitors,
secretaries, patients and visitors each week.
is something we're all proud of," said Marty Ranft, a McDonald's
vice president. "We've got a great relationship with the Cleveland
Clinic. We are not interested in closing the restaurant."
In the struggle
against obesity, Americans are losing. And among the favorite targets
for blame are fast-food chains such as McDonald's. Studies show
that consuming large portions of high-fat, salty, sugar-laden foods
has helped create a nation in which 64 percent of people are overweight
or obese. They often land here at the Cleveland Clinic seeking treatment
for diabetes, strokes, heart failure and crippling joint pain.
to set an example with the food we serve our patients and employees,"
said Cosgrove, a trim 63-year-old. "In a way, McDonald's was
symbolic as much as anything else. It is not associated with heart-healthy
food; neither is Pizza Hut."
crusade has been met with resistance from not just McDonald's executives,
who say they are being singled out for a problem that goes beyond
the occasional Happy Meal, but also from staff and visitors who
resent what they consider to be a paternalistic attitude from bosses
who can afford pricier, more healthful food.
have in the cafeteria is not a lot better, and it's certainly not
affordable," said Donna Wilkison, a post-operative nurse waiting
in line for her McDonald's salad with chicken. The cafeteria salad
bar, priced at $4.64 a pound, "gets very expensive. They need
to bring in something else that's more affordable."
On its sprawling
urban campus, the clinic has a Subway sandwich shop, Au Bon Pain
and Starbucks. Adjacent to the McDonald's is a cafeteria that features
a large salad bar, a grill, a deli and hot entrees. The choices
range include fresh fruit and homemade mashed potatoes. At Subway,
salads begin at $3.99 and subs are about $5. McDonald's salads cost
such as Montefiore Medical Center's Miriam Pappo said the Cleveland
Clinic battle is akin to fights being waged in America's schools
-- and a handful of other hospitals -- over candy, soda and fast-food
She said it
was "appropriate" for clinic officials to act as role
models, yet Pappo sympathized with McDonald's' argument that no
one forces people to eat there. "In a way, they are a scapegoat,"
Pappo said. "But in other ways, they are contributing for sure."
Of its 13,000
U.S. locations, about 30 McDonald's outlets are in hospitals, including
children's hospitals in Los Angeles and Philadelphia. The New York
City Health and Hospital Corp. does not intend to renew the McDonald's
contract at its Elmhurst hospital and has not decided whether to
keep the one in the Jacoby Medical Center in the Bronx, spokeswoman
Kathleen McGrath said. The Harlem hospital closed its McDonald's
earlier this year.
debate began two years ago when one of the clinic's most talented,
most outspoken heart surgeons rose at a staff retreat to question
how in good conscience they could tempt their patients with such
tell you how many patients found this repulsive," said cardiology
chairman Eric Topol. "How can the Cleveland Clinic, which prides
itself on promoting health, have the audacity to have a McDonald's
in the main lobby?"
Some days, the
scent of cooking grease wafts up the one flight to Topol's domain,
a heart center that has been ranked first in the nation by U.S.
News & World Report for 10 straight years. He has heard all
the wisecracks and not-so-amused comments about serving up a side
of fries with that angioplasty.
was a strip mall or a food court in a public place, that would be
a different matter," he said in an interview. "We're supposed
to be the icons for promoting good health."
director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public
Interest, said McDonald's few salads, fish sandwiches and fruit
drinks do not make up for its overwhelming emphasis on fried foods.
with a lot of fanfare they were going to change the frying oil,
and they never followed through," Wootan said. "There's
twice as much heart-damaging fat in the french fries and nuggets
and apple pies in the lard they use."
accuse Topol, Cosgrove and Wootan of opportunism and demagoguery,
targeting an easy villain rather than the individuals doing the
Cosgrove wants to say McDonald's is inconsistent" with the
health goals of the hospital, "he needs to take a look at the
vending machines with candy bars and salty snacks, the cafeteria
with deep-fried chicken, baked pies and slabs of ribs," said
William Whitman, director of U.S. media relations for McDonald's.
point to numerous high-calorie, high-fat foods in the clinic cafeteria.
But their comparison of "typical meals" tallies a cafeteria
breakfast of orange juice, three scrambled eggs, two pork sausage
patties, two hash browns and two slices of toast against the steak,
single egg and cheese on a bagel with hash browns from McDonald's.
As the burger
battle has escalated, McDonald's public relations gurus have rolled
out legal, political and economic arguments. They defend their food
as healthful. But they also have suggested that Cosgrove is racist
for targeting Turan Strange, the African American small businessman
who owns the franchise, raised the specter of unemployment for its
40 low-wage workers and said that closing down will hurt Ohio beef
a representative of the National Black McDonald's Operators Association,
warned Cosgrove: "We vigorously support one another and will
not hesitate to do so with every resource available to us."
In the meantime,
business is brisk at the Cleveland Clinic McDonald's, one of four
owned by Strange; staff members, patients and visitors wait in line.
to eat healthy, but for lunch I want something that's cheap,"
said Tanya Sutton, who works 5 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in patient food
service. "At 11 a.m. they're still serving breakfast in the
cafeteria, but that's my lunch break." She eats at the McDonald's
a few times a week.
Nudged by his
wife, engineering supervisor John Moorer walks through the cafeteria
salad bar, loading his plate with lettuce, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms,
eggs, cucumbers, cheese cubes and diced ham, which he knows is not
good for his high blood pressure. But he has also opted for McDonald's
or Pizza Hut: "I can't eat salad all the time. It's rabbit
age, Moorer doesn't want his boss telling him what to eat. "If
it's killing me, then that's my choice," he said.
said they want to work with the clinic to develop more healthful
menu options. But Cosgrove did not sound interested. He suggested
a financial settlement is in the offing.
[end of article]
to eat healthy, but for lunch I want something that's cheap,"
said Tanya Sutton. But this food is expensive if you take into consideration
that eating this food is going to come at the expense of your health.
Mr. Moorer said, "If it's killing me, then that's my choice."
Does this sound like a rational statement, or is this the thinking
of someone who doesn't give a rat's rump about their health; someone
who values concoctions designed to tantalize the tastebuds more
than being in good physiological shape. As we have become a less
healthy species, sperm counts are down, women's ability to conceive
is down, and miscarriages are up; all signs that our ability to
procreate the species is diminishing. Like it or not, Mother Nature
has the final say, and just as natural selection selects out those
who are healthiest to carry on genetic lines, it also lets the unhealthy
genetic lines go bye-bye. So to assist Mother Nature in her quest
to have the strong survive, maybe there should be a McDonald's in
every hospital lobby, and on every street corner. It won't make
a difference to those who truly care about their health, they won't
eat at McDonald's no matter how many there are. As to the those
folks who aren't wise enough to value good health over unhealthy
Happy Meals, the sooner their genetic lines are weeded out of the
human gene pool, the healthier the human species will be. And since
emotional health is directly affected by physical health, maybe
then people's personalities will evolve away from self-interest
and move towards caring about their fellow humans. Maybe then there
can be just one race, the human race, and not separate races based
on hair, skin, or eye color and we won't need a National Black McDonald's
Operators Association. Maybe then companies will put their customer's
health before financial gain. Maybe then politicians will put their
constituent's interest before self-interest. If we don't improve
as a species, and we instead continue on the present path where
we are nothing more than revenue generating units for corporations,
seen only as mouths to shovel non-human food into, and merely bodies
to fill with drugs to mask symptoms of serious disease to keep the
profits of the medical/pharmaceutical industries up as our health
goes down, then why bother existing? Maybe another ice age should
"hit the reset button", and life on this planet should
try again. If people's definition of paradise is to be able to eat
whatever they want and take pills to mask the symptoms of the diseases
caused by this way of eating, and to be able to sit on their larger
than normal butts in front of the TV as their girth increases and
their health and vitality decreases, then they probably are a big
disappointment to whomever or whatever designed them in the first
place. That entity's point of view? "I gave you a paradise,
and look what you did with it!... Free will; not one of my better
Yes, the above
is a harsh look at reality, but if present health trends continue,
and if people continue to become more overweight and obese at earlier
and earlier ages, and if degenerative disease continues to show
itself at earlier and earlier ages, then soon there may be no reality
for the human race to look at!
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