OBJECTIVES. The objectives of this study were (1) to determine fast food restaurant prevalence in hospitals with pediatric residencies and (2) to evaluate how hospital environment affects purchase and perception of fast food.
METHODS. We first surveyed pediatric residency programs regarding fast food restaurants in their hospitals to determine the prevalence of fast food restaurants in these hospitals. We then surveyed adults with children after pediatric outpatient visits at 3 hospitals: hospital M with an on-site McDonald’s restaurant, hospital R without McDonald’s on site but with McDonald’s branding, and hospital X with neither on-site McDonald’s nor branding. We sought to determine attitudes toward, consumption of, and influences on purchase of fast food and McDonald’s food.
RESULTS. Fifty-nine of 200 hospitals with pediatric residencies had fast food restaurants. A total of 386 outpatient surveys were analyzed. Fast food consumption on the survey day was most common among hospital M respondents (56%; hospital R: 29%; hospital X: 33%), as was the purchase of McDonald’s food (hospital M: 53%; hospital R: 14%; hospital X: 22%). McDonald’s accounted for 95% of fast food consumed by hospital M respondents, and 83% of them bought their food at the on-site McDonald’s. Using logistic regression analysis, hospital M respondents were 4 times more likely than respondents at the other hospitals to have purchased McDonald’s food on the survey day. Visitors to hospitals M and R were more likely than those at hospital X to believe that McDonald’s supported the hospital financially. Respondents at hospital M rated McDonald’s food healthier than did respondents at the other hospitals.
CONCLUSIONS. Fast food restaurants are fairly common in hospitals that sponsor pediatric residency programs. A McDonald’s restaurant in a children’s hospital was associated with significantly increased purchase of McDonald’s food by outpatients, belief that the McDonald’s Corporation supported the hospital financially, and higher rating of the healthiness of McDonald’s food.