Putting your meals where your mouth is

One of the things I remember about residency was that there were a lot of free meals. They’d often happen at “noon conference” where food was used to entice you to continue your education. Sometimes, these meals are provided by drug companies, but that’s a post for another day. Today, I just want to focus on the meals themselves.

There’s a great piece in JAMA that talks about the meals doctors often eat. Obesity isn’t just confined to the general public. Studies have shown that almost 45% of doctors are overweight or obese. Although I was so depressed during residency that I lost weight at times, the average doctor gains four pounds then. The free meals aren’t helping:

For example, a typical lunch served at a noon medical conference consists of a turkey sandwich, a bag of chips, a cookie, and a 12-oz sugary beverage. This meal of 1280 calories is double what most adults require and contains virtually no vegetables. Suppose the hospital or the funder of a conference required that only “certified healthy” meals could be served at lunch meetings. The caterer would be required to offer these or risk losing their business from the institution. The caterer could determine which of their meals meet this designation and gain certification. A new meal may consist of a vegetable and hummus sandwich on whole wheat bread, a small piece of dark chocolate, and unsweetened iced tea, equaling approximately 700 calories and containing a few servings of vegetables. The caterers/restaurants that offered these items would have an increase in business. Since the restaurant was already serving these meals to the medical institution, other businesses nearby the hospital could start requesting them. The restaurant could list these on its menu and serve them to the public as “certified healthy” meals, and could even indicate that “These are the lunches your doctor eats.”

 It’s an interesting idea. Physicians, heal thy-selves.

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