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Health Team

Local Hospital Helps Workers Drop Pounds, Eat Healthier

Posted December 20, 2007

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— Some people say the best incentive to get out of the hospital is the food. However, some hospitals have begun dishing out near-gourmet, healthy meals around the clock.

In October, First Health Moore Regional in Pinehurst started pricing meals in order to encourage diners to get the most health benefit out of the hospital cafeteria. Nearly 90 percent of the cafeteria's customers are hospital staffers.

Hospital employee Linda Cooke said she and other workers typically get half an hour for lunch, so that cafeteria is often their best option "to get something tasty, that's affordable and within the time limit that we have."

Hospital administrators adjusted food prices to encourage people to eat the healthiest options. For example, diet sodas are cheaper than regular sodas, and baked chips cost less than regular chips.

The arrangement of foods in the vending machine was switched around, making people bend to get pricier cookies. Healthier options were placed higher up.

Healthier items were also added to the menu, including fat-free and low cholesterol eggs, turkey sausage and turkey bacon. Options like grilled salmon are growing in popularity since they decreased in price.

In response, hospital officials said they have seen buying habits change. While purchases between diet and regular sodas were once evenly split, 20 percent customers now opt to buy diet sodas.

"We've reduced our use of bacon by about 2,500 slices in a month," Gary O'Neill, in the hospital's food and nutrition services, said. "And our orders of French fries dropped by over 1,200 in the same month."

Cooke said she enjoys adding the salmon to her salad. "And it's still affordable, what you'd want to pay for lunch," she added.

Thomas Halloran, a hospital employee, said he has lost 20 pounds.

"Mostly, I can attribute from the cafeteria and changing my lifestyle outside of the department," Halloran said.

First Health Moore Regional also offers its employees the First Fit program, with incentives for exercising, as well as healthier eating.

Employees said that not all their eating habits have been changed at once.

"I can't completely give up sweet tea or French fries," Cooke said, "but, overall, I'm making more healthy choices."

5 Comments

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  • tulips4445 Dec 21, 11:47 a.m.

    now if we can just get them to start doing this in schools...

  • Tidbit Dec 21, 9:35 a.m.

    I'll never understand what people have against capitalism. LOL it's funny.

    But, this hospital is just fantastic all around. I had surgery here in August.

    Everyone knows that when you have major surgery someone should be with you to make sure to stay on top of hospital staff 24/7 so you get what you need.

    Not here!!!!! Your loved ones would be bored. The staff are prompt, kind, and always on top of things.

    They had actually made a lot of changes in the cafeteria when I was there and my family was really impressed with how good the food was and all the healthy choices.

    Moore Regional is considered a "Center for Excellence". But actually really honestly try to be. It's not just a gimic status for them.

    So KUDOS for more healthy good changes!

  • CestLaVie Dec 21, 8:22 a.m.

    I would think that hospitals, doctors' offices & health ins. companies MIGHT be the FIRST places to offer healthier food alternatives to employees. But, oh...I forgot - they're in business to make a profit too. Good old capitalistic greed gets in the way, all the time.

    What makes this hospital different & what did it take for them to choose to change their course of action? New people in charge with some foresight, vision & ability to think outside the box? Kudos to them.

  • B4JESUS Dec 21, 7:48 a.m.

    If every eating place would adopt that policy just think what a impact it would make on each of us. Even in the grocery store things that are good for you are generally higher. Thats the reason so many are over weight including me.

  • stlrfnatc73 Dec 21, 7:06 a.m.

    What a very good story. A shout-out for the hospital. Now if all the hospitals would follow suite, it definitely will be worth it.