How the nutrition facts label is changing
Ever feel like your doctor just isn’t listening to you?
A physicians group based in New York isn’t helping the profession overcome that stereotype. For the third time in less than five years, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is targeting John Peter Smith Hospital because it houses a McDonald’s. An extension of the restaurant’s lease is on the agenda for Thursday’s meeting of the JPS Health Network Board of Managers.
McDonald’s has operated at JPS for more than 25 years. And every time the lease comes up, the committee trots out tired arguments that are disguised as health concerns but are really part of a vegan agenda.
We’re not necessarily advocating for McDonald’s. If the board wants to find a different vendor or can get a better deal (the restaurant pays rent and a portion of its proceeds), that’s fine.
But everyone knows by now that fast food isn’t good for you. Yes, some people rely far too much on it and may well pay the price down the road. For others, it’s a special treat or, because of cost or convenience, it’s sometimes the best available option.
At some point, people have to be responsible for their own choices. The JPS board shouldn’t have to try to legislate visitors’ diets.
For years, activists have tried different angles. As far back as 2012, a group called Corporate Accountability International argued that, for the sake of children, Ronald McDonald and his pals had to go. When the physicians committee got on the case, its first point was about a conflict of interest for the hospital to promote health but make unhealthy food available.
Two years ago, the group tried taking its case directly to residents, with ads on buses warning of heart risks.
This year, finally, its real agenda is clear, if subtly expressed: The committee’s letter to JPS officials touts the benefits of “ low-cost plant-based meals.”
It’s animal welfare more than human health that really drives the committee. In the past, the American Medical Association has criticized the group as misrepresenting animal research, and other critics have noted its alignment with the extremist People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Despite the committee’s name, just a small share of its members are medical doctors.
There’s nothing wrong with defending animals, of course. But that’s a different conversation from health and medicine.
Nutrition advice is constantly changing. Dire warnings about cholesterol and fat, fueled by decades of government policy, have been dialed back. And JPS officials have pushed to ensure that a variety of dining options are available. It’s not like anyone at the hospital is forced to eat McDonald’s.
The JPS board can decide, based on finances and the best interest of its patients, visitors and employees, whether to extend the McDonald’s contract. It needn’t descend into the nutrition wars or an animal-rights brawl over the presence of a few Big Macs.