Advocacy group petitions hospitals to get rid of McDonald's

mcdonald's, quarter pounder

(CBS News) McDonald's has provided countless meals for Americans, but an advocacy group wants them out of our nation's medical institutions.

Corporate Accountability International, an organization that fights corporate abuse, is petitioning several U.S. hospitals to get McDonald's restaurants out of their dining areas.

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"In your role as a local health leader, you have allowed McDonald's - a corporation that has disregarded public health in the name of profits - to operate within an environment devoted to helping our children get well," the group stated in the letter. "A 2006 study published in Pediatrics concluded that by allowing a McDonald's store to operate inside your facility, you are not just affecting hospital guests' consumption on the day of their visit, but you are unintentionally boosting your guests' perception of the "healthfulness" of McDonald's food. In other words, your hospital is being used as part of McDonald's comprehensive marketing strategy, a strategy that is clearly inconsistent with your goals as a health institution."

Campaign director Sara Deon told USA Today that they are targeting McDonald's because they are the biggest chain and profit the most, but the problem of unhealthy fast food in hospitals isn't just one indicative of the golden arches. A Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine 2011 report that analyzed over 110 hospitals across the country found out that some hospitals had up to five different fast food restaurants and served foods like country fried steak in their cafeterias.

Kaiser Permanente has also called on hospitals to review their dietary offerings. Speaking to Kaiser Heath News (which is not affiliated with the health care company), Kaiser Permanente vice president Kathy Gerwig said that their hospital is making strides toward offering healthier food choices for their staff and patients, something she believes "needs to change" in other hospitals.

The problem is fast food can be comforting to families of patients and patients themselves, NPR pointed out. Even though the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia closed their McDonald's in September 2011, they reopened up the shake service for kids who were patients. Fast food is also a reliable food service for hospital workers, whose schedules have them eating at all hours of the day.

And, McDonald's claims that they don't only serve fatty fries and greasy burgers. "Today, we offer more variety than ever in our menu and we trust that our customers will make the appropriate choices for them, their families and lifestyles," spokesperson for McDonald's Danya Proud told NPR.

Do you think fast food should be removed from hospitals?