Healthy Hospital Food Initiative - Case Study Published

When I worked at the NYC Health Department, one of my favorite projects was the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative. It was incredibly collaborative, with our hospital partners doing most of the heavy lifting. We provided the guidelines, framework and nutrition technical support as needed, and they made the changes on the ground, often with a lot of creative problem-solving. I'm really proud of this project, with over 60% of NYC hospitals participating (which includes some of the largest facilities and largest employers in NYC). There were a lot of substantial changes - getting the junk food out, yes, but also making healthier options more available.

Our case study on the success of the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative was published last week in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease:  I hope this will be a helpful resource for others looking to make healthy changes to the food options in hospitals.  Below is a picture of the posters we created to support the initiative. 

Figure 1. Promotional signage for hospital cafeterias.

Figure 1. Promotional signage for hospital cafeterias.

From the article -- 

"Using the standards provided by the health department, hospitals made substantial healthy improvements in their cafeterias, including labeling items with caloric information, reducing availability of sugary drinks, increasing whole grains in sandwiches and entrees, and reducing sodium."


For more on the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, here is an article I was interviewed for on the launch of the initiative:

Here is a link to more on the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative on the NYC Health Department website.



Healthier Patient Meals in Hospitals

Turning your research into a published paper always involves long hours of sorting through data and ideas, and many, many drafts circulated between you and your colleagues. It's a long process that makes it extra rewarding to finally see this latest paper, Use of Nutrition Standards to Improve Nutritional Quality of Hospital Patient Meals: Findings from New York City's Healthy Hospital Food Initiative, in print.

My work with the NYC Health Department on the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative has been one of my favorite projects to work on, in part because of the strong partnership we had with the hard-working staff at each hospital, and the large-scale changes many made to their hospital's food environment.  With each hospital, we worked comprehensively to get the junk food out and healthier foods in. This is why we not only looked at what they were serving in their cafeterias, but also in the vending machines scattered throughout the hospital floors and even patient meals. 

This recent paper published chronicles changes made to patient meals, including a significant increase in fresh fruit servings, often taking the place of a refined carbohydrate dessert, or sugary canned fruit. Meals also significantly decreased in sodium and saturated fat, while increasing in fiber. More results can be seen in Table 2 (below) as well as Table 3 in the paper. 

Find the abstract for the paper here

Find out more about the Healthy Hospital Food Initiative here