Kansas City’s Truman Medical Center ends contract with McDonald’s: Decision follows public call for hospitals to break from burger giant

November 14, 2012

For Immediate Release: November 14, 2012

Contact: Mara Schechter, 617-695-2525

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Months after Corporate Accountability International and a network of more than 3000 health professionals petitioned hospital administrators nationwide to remove McDonald’s franchises  from their premises, Truman Medical Center has ended its contract with the burger giant, citing an increasing focus on health and wellness. 

Hospital CEO John Bluford had responded favorably to the petition and been publicly critical of Truman’s housing a McDonald’s as early as 2004. He is also the former chairman of the American Hospital Association, where he has advocated for hospitals and their employees to take leadership in creating a healthier food landscape in the communities they serve

Truman becomes the fourth hospital to take this action in recent years, joining Lurie Children’s Hospital (formerly Chicago Memorial Hospital), Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Vanderbilt Medical Center, and Parkland Health & Hospital System. Among the other 21 hospitals that Corporate Accountability International and its network petitioned, Cleveland Clinic has also indicated it will not renew its contract with McDonald’s. Franchises in Memorial Regional Hospital, FL, Broward General Medical Center, FL  and John Peter Smith Hospital, TX will also soon have contracts up for renewal.

“Siting a McDonald’s in an institution meant to promote health earns McDonald’s an undeserved association with healthiness among parents and children alike…and it needs to stop,” said Sara Deon, director of Corporate Accountability International’s Value [the] Meal campaign. “Truman and its employees are to be commended for standing up for kids’ health.”

Corporate Accountability International and its allies have been exerting increasing pressure on McDonald’s over the past several years to stop “nutriwashing” its brand and instead curb abuses like the marketing of junk food to kids.  A growing number of studies have linked the skyrocketing rates of diet-related conditions like diabetes to the marketing of junk food to kids. Research from the Institute of Medicine and the National Bureau of Economic Research have found that ending junk food marketing directed at kids could spare the health of millions of children. 

The White House and four federal agencies, (FTC, FDA, CDC and the USDA) have also recommended stopping promoting junk food to children. The American Academy of Pediatrics was the most recent to draw this conclusion with its recommendation of a national policy prohibiting junk food marketing to kids.

Siting McDonald’s in children’s hospitals, in particular, is a critical part of McDonald’s nutriwashing efforts, says Deon. A study published in the leading medical journal Pediatrics has found that siting McDonald’s in hospitals is not just a revenue generator; it’s high impact marketing. The results showed that allowing a McDonald’s store to operate inside a hospital affects more than just fast food consumption on the day of a patient’s visit. It also boosts the perception of the “healthiness” of McDonald’s food.

Corporate Accountability International (formerly Infact) is a membership organization that has, for the last 35 years, successfully advanced campaigns protecting health, the environment and human rights. Value [the] Meal is Corporate Accountability International’s campaign dedicated to reversing the global epidemic of diet-related disease by challenging the fast food industry to curb a range of its practices.

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