Most traditional home-cooked dinners would too. They are the source of hospital "cuisine"
Public hospitals serve meals that contain more fat, salt and calories than McDonald's burgers. The Sunday Times obtained a Royal Perth Hospital hot meal and sent it to a laboratory for testing. The analysis revealed that the chicken and vegetable dinner had more fat, sodium and energy than a Big Mac or Quarter Pounder, and nearly as much as a burger and french fries combined.
But this meal is far from the worst that is often on the menu for patients. The Sunday Times is aware that fatty pork chops in sauce and sausages and bacon are also served. "The pork chops are horrible, they must be about 50 per cent fat," one hospital worker said.
Prominent dietitian Margaret Hays said patients should get a selection of food, but the Government also had a responsibility to offer healthy choices in hospitals -- especially considering the obesity epidemic. "With such a huge number of Australians being overweight, or having heart conditions or diabetes, I'd expect that hospitals, of all places, should be paving the way to healthy eating and setting standards," she said.
The lab results showed the hospital meal contained 28.4g of artery-blocking fat, 1208mg of high-blood pressure-friendly sodium and 625 calories. This compared with a Big Mac's 25.5g of fat, 846mg of sodium and 480 calories. A Quarter Pounder has 20g of fat, 690mg of sodium and 460 calories. Grab a McChicken burger and fries, with 944mg of sodium, and you still get more salt in the hospital meal. There's also not much more fat and energy in the burger and fries, at 33.5g and 672 calories respectively.
Hospital workers said there were "boring" healthier choices, such as cold meat and salad, and cereal. But people often opted for "greasy hot stuff", such as roast beef swimming in gravy.
Ms Hays said healthy food did not have to be bland, nor would it cost more for hospitals. Tasty casseroles and soups, using plenty of vegetables and lean meat, were among many cheap and healthy options. Australian Medical Association president Geoff Dobb said unhealthy meal options should eventually be phased out in all hospitals. Opposition health spokesman Kim Hames said with obesity now the major cause of health problems, it was disgraceful that there was still hospital food that was less healthy than burgers. The Health Department refused to comment.
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