The American Medical Association (AMA) have issued a policy statement that called for hospitals to serve patients more healthful meals. The announcement was issued at its annual meeting in June. The AMA represents two hundred thousand medical professionals across the US.
Hospitals in the US have been heavily criticised for serving their patients unhealthy foods containing high levels of saturated fats, salt and sugars. A 2014 study even found that some US hospitals had contracts with fast food restaurants.
In its review it states: ‘That our American Medical Association hereby call on US hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by (1) providing and promoting plant-based meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars for hospital patients, staff, and visitors, and (2) eliminating the use of processed meats from patient menus. (Directive to Take Action)’
The statement shows the AMA are supporting literature, previously highlighted by the World Health Organisation (WHO) among others, which strongly links consumption of processed meats with cancer, diabetes and heart disease. The promotion of plant-based meals suggests that medical professionals will be educating their patients about the benefits of cutting animal products from their diets. The AMA also acknowledges the adverse health effects of sugar-sweetened beverages and proposes limiting them in schools and hospitals in favour of healthier beverages.
However, it does not suggest that schools should look to promote or provide plant-based meals or eliminate processed meats and there is no mention of eliminating dairy or non-processed meats from hospitals.
What the Health, the documentary featuring Kip Andersen, was recently released on Netflix and uses case studies and expert opinion to outline the health benefits of following a vegan diet. It also exposes the apparent cover up of the impacts of animal products on health, which affects millions of people every year.
Although this policy statement is a step in the right direction for the AMA, there is still more which can be done to promote the plant-based lifestyle. Let’s hope that the British Medical Association follows suit.