The American Medical Association (AMA) House of Delegates—a group of 200,000 physicians—issued a policy statement last week to remove disease-causing foods from hospital menus nationwide. “AMA hereby call on US hospitals to improve the health of patients, staff, and visitors by providing a variety of healthful food,” the AMA’s resolution states, “including plant-based meals and meals that are low in fat, sodium, and added sugars.” The statement further asks hospitals and staff to lead by example by “eliminating processed meats from menus, and providing and promoting healthful beverages.” Neal Barnard, MD, founder of 12,000-member medical association Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, spoke at AMA’s meeting and pointed out how effective the organization has been in removing cigarettes from medical facilities. “A generation ago,” Barnard said, “the AMA supported doctors who were working to get tobacco out of their hospitals. And that helped everyone, especially those patients who needed to break a bad habit.” In 2015, the World Health Organization reclassified processed meats in the same cancer-causing category as cigarettes, and several recent studies have proven that consuming a diet high in animal products increases risk factors for certain cancers, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease—illnesses hospitals and doctors can help prevent by not serving foods that cause them.
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