What is a Healthy Food Hospital?
Michigan hospitals are leading by example by modeling exemplary food service choices and nutrition selections to support the health of all those who walk through their doors. The implementation of the four stars displays the importance the hospital places on healthy eating, weight management and the modeling of healthy food environments. A
Healthy Food Hospital is one that is on the right track to encouraging healthy eating within their facility by completing the four-star initiative.
Adopting the Healthy Food Hospitals campaign requires the cooperation and participation of the entire community – including hospital employees, patients and visitors.
Why Healthy Food Hospitals?
Healthy eating can help reduce the incidence of obesity and chronic diseases - increasingly common conditions that result in shortened lives, lowered productivity and enormous economic costs. Although healthy eating habits are ultimately a matter of individual choice, food environments can encourage individuals and families to make healthy selections. Michigan hospitals have the opportunity to help prevent these food-related health concerns by influencing how food is produced and by modeling good nutrition within their institutions.
The Dangers of Obesity, Food-related Diseases
Obesity has been a growing concern, with childhood obesity being forefront, as it has become one of the most complex public health threats to our nation.
- Currently one in three children are obese or overweight in the United States.i
- In Michigan alone, the obesity rate is 29.4 percent for adults and 12.4 percent for children age 10 – 17, making Michigan the 10th most overweight state in the United States.ii
- Obesity also presents a concern for productivity and the economy. It has been estimated that childhood obesity burdens the U.S. health care system with $14 billion per year in direct health care costs.iii
- According to the Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan initiative, Michigan’s annual medical cost associated with obesity continues to climb beyond $3 billion. The Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan initiative formed in 2007 as a result of former Gov. Jennifer Granholm’s grant award from the National Governor’s Association’s Healthy Kids, Healthy America program to address this public health epidemic.
- An increasing number of organ and tissue donors are found to have organs and tissues that are not suitable for transplant because of structural/cellular damage caused by the body dealing with extremely high fat content. There is also a decreased patient and graft survival in obese patients. iv
Support for a Healthier Michigan – Symptom Based Solutions
The Healthy Kids, Healthy Michigan initiative is a multi-year strategic plan for advancing public policy in a set of key priority areas, two of them affecting Michigan’s health care system:
- The first will help provide sufficient local data to begin to determine if efforts to fight obesity are effective. This will be done by body mass index (BMI) surveillance – adding obesity measures to the Michigan Care Improvement Registry to monitor, evaluate and prioritize childhood obesity prevention efforts.
- Simultaneously, clarity will be brought to the Michigan Medicaid Provider Manual to best describe coding and payment of childhood obesity, thereby improving the clinical care and coverage associated with pediatric obesity management.
Healthy Food Hospitals Mean for Employers and Employees
When health facilities create healthy food environments, there can be many benefits for the facility and its employees, in addition to the nutritional, health and environmental benefits. These include:
- less absenteeism
- increased productivity
- reduced workers’ compensations payments
- positive publicity
- differentiation from competitors
- better employee morale
- added patient satisfaction
- more visible nutrition education
- improved community relations
Some facilities want to increase access to fresher, more nutritious food and use their food dollars to have a greater impact on their community’s economy. Overall, there is a growing recognition that access to quality food is integral to a hospital’s ability to accomplish its mission of promoting health and combating or preventing disease.
i Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
"Childhood Obesity: The Challenge." Accessed July 10, 2010.
Levi J, Vinter S, St. Laurent R and Segal LM.
"F as in Fat." June 29, 2010. Trust for America’s Health. Accessed July 10, 2010.
iv Killackey M, Zhang R, Sparks K, Paramesh A, Slakey D, Florman S.
"Challenges of abdominal organ transplant in obesity."
South Med J. 2010 Jun;103(6):532-40. Review. Accessed April 4, 2011.
PMID: 20710136 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]