Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Food

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Hospitals should make it easy for staff and patients to make healthy food choices, such as by offering nutritious foods and beverages and limiting junk food and sugary beverages.

Here is a summary of hospital and healthcare clinic food environment recommendations for obesity prevention, based on a review of expert guidance from the American Medical Association, the Institute of Medicine, and others. For more detailed guidance on these recommendations and ideas for putting them into practice, explore the source list and the links to other resources.

Tools for Healthy Food in Hospitals (tools-for-healthy-food-in-hospitals.jpg)

Related Topics (related-topics.jpg)

Read the complete list of healthcare obesity prevention recommendations.

Encourage healthcare providers and clinic employees to model healthy eating (1,2,3,4)
Offer healthy food and beverages to employees and patients (1,4,5)
Ban the sale and marketing of unhealthy food and beverages on clinic and hospital premises (5,6)
Promote breastfeeding among new mothers who give birth in the hospital or clinic, as well as for hospital and clinic employees who are nursing (7,8,9,10,11,12)

Healthy Hospitals, Healthy Food—Source List

1. American Academy of Pediatrics. Prevention and Treatment of Child Overweight and Obesity: Policy Opportunities ToolOpens in New Window. American Academy of Pediatrics, 2010. Accessed February 7, 2012.

2. Koplan JP, Liverman CT, Kraak VI, eds. Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance. Washington, D.C.: The National Academies PressOpens in New Window; 2005.

3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation 2010Opens in New Window Rockville: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2010.

4. Centre for Public Health Excellence. Guidance on the prevention, identification, assessment and management of overweight and obesity in adults and childrenOpens in New Window. London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence: 2006.

5. American Medical Association. Proceedings of the 2005 Annual Meeting of the House of Delegates: Resolutions. Chicago, IL: American Medical AssociationOpens in New Window; 2005.

6. Strasburger VC. Children, adolescents, and advertising. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2006;118:2563-9.

7. Gartner LM, Morton J, Lawrence RA, et al. Breastfeeding and the use of human milk. PediatricsOpens in New Window. 2005;115:496-506.

8. American Medical AssociationOpens in New Window. H-245.982 AMA Support for Breastfeeding. In: American Medical Association PolicyFinder; 2011.

9. Shealy K, Li R, Benton-Davis S, Grummer-Strawn L. The CDC Guide to Breastfeeding Interventions. Atlanta: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and PreventionOpens in New Window; 2005.

10. Let’s MoveOpens in New Window. Healthcare Providers Take Action. Accessed February 2, 2012.

11. Parker L, Burns AC, Sanchez E. Local government actions to prevent childhood obesity. Washington, D.C.: Institute of MedicineOpens in New Window; 2009.

12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Support BreastfeedingOpens in New Window. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Surgeon General; 2011.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.

Terms of Use

The aim of the Harvard School of Public Health Obesity Prevention Source Web site is to provide timely information about obesity’s global causes, consequences, prevention, and control, for the public, health and public health practitioners, business and community leaders, and policymakers. The contents of this Web site are not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this Web site. The Web site’s obesity prevention policy recommendations are based primarily on a review of U.S. expert guidance, unless otherwise indicated; in other countries, different policy approaches may be needed to achieve improvements in food and physical activity environments, so that healthy choices are easy choices, for all.