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A medical centre in Georgia, U.S.A, has attracted media attention after it received a request from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM). Navicent Health is a designated Level I Trauma Center, with an onsite medical facility and children’s hospital. The PCRM has written to the local health department, in Macon Bibb, requesting their support in closing the McDonalds in favour of healthy, low fat, plant based vendors at the Navicent Health facility. They have also asked them to post a statement on their website publicly recognising that restaurant chains that provide high-fat, unhealthy food have no place in Macon-Bibb County hospitals. 

PCRM is a non-profit organisation consisting of over 12,000 medical physicians and 150,000 members. Working with doctors, medical facilities, health departments, policy makers and patients they are trying to change the way doctors treat chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. Their focus is educating medical professionals to put prevention over pills, through lifestyle and diet choices which empower patients to take control of their own health.

The current lease with McDonalds expires in 2019 although many are hoping Navicent Health will terminate the contract before then. Karen Smith, a registered dietitian, said:

“They should be promoting health and wellness. Just like patients can no longer smoke in hospitals, they shouldn’t have access to fast food and processed meats because of the risk of chronic disease. They should be setting a good example for the community in which they’re in, helping prevent disease and certainly nutrition is a huge part in doing so.”

Navicent are not the only ones though. There are currently 12 McDonalds, 19 Chick-fil-A and 2 Wendy’s within hospitals across the country. These fast food outlets are cheap, as cited by one frequent visitor to the Navicent hospital, Erica Atkins, who eats at the McDonalds, “I get the dollar cheeseburger, the dollar fry, and the dollar drink.” Whilst it may be cheap it has severe impacts on health, let alone the ethical and environmental considerations.

A study published in the journal, Circulationfound that people who eat fast food once a week increase their risk of dying from heart disease by 20 percent. Two to three fast-food meals a week increase the risk of premature death by 50 percent. Four or more fast-food meals a week increase the risk of dying from heart disease by nearly 80 percent. 

The Macon-Bibb County Board of Health is expected to discuss the letter from PCRM at a meeting on August 21. Navicent Health have issued a statement saying:

“We currently have a lease with a local McDonald’s franchisee, and plan to uphold the terms of that agreement.”