Health Buzz: Hospitals Urged to Evict McDonald's

25 healthful snacks under 200 calories; America’s least obese cities

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Advocacy Group: Show McDonald's the Door

Do McDonald's burgers and fries belong in hospital cafeterias? That's a resounding no, says the advocacy group Corporate Accountability International, which is asking nearly two dozen hospitals nationwide to cut ties with their fast-food tenants. "We are calling on you to help curb the epidemic of diet-related disease and to stop fostering a food environment that promotes harm, not health," the group wrote in a letter to hospital leaders. The campaign has been endorsed by nearly 2,000 health professionals. "We hear from physicians saying kids come in for their diabetic check-ups and they hear the parents saying 'If you are well-behaved, we'll take you for a treat at the McDonald's down the hall,'" campaign director Sara Deon told USA Today. Still, ousting fast-food vendors is easier said than done; many have long-standing contracts. Meanwhile, McDonald's—which is found in 27 hospitals, nine fewer than reported in 2005—counters that it offers a balanced menu. "Today, we offer more variety than ever in our menu and we trust that our customers will make the appropriate choices for them, their families, and lifestyles," Danya Proud, a McDonald's spokesperson, told NPR.

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  • 25 Healthful Snacks Under 200 Calories

    Snacks are for diet champions. Those who are most successful at dropping weight—and keeping it off—typically have three meals and several healthy snacks a day, since going too long without eating can slow metabolism and throw blood sugar levels out of whack. But the trick is choosing wisely. What many people consider a "snack"—an energy bar, part of a bag of chips, or a side order at a fast-food restaurant—can actually contain 400 or more calories, making it more like a meal. A true snack, says Melanie Douglass, a registered dietitian and personal trainer based in Salt Lake City, is about 150 to 200 calories. Here are 25 healthful snack suggestions that fit the bill.

    1. A cup of high-fiber cereal (like Kashi Heart to Heart) and a small handful of pumpkin seeds.

    2. One ounce of nuts, which is about 24 almonds or 15 walnuts. Nuts are nutrient-packed but calorie-dense, so limit consumption to one or two handfuls a day.

    3. One cup of bran flakes with half a cup of chocolate milk.

    4. One handful of red grapes. Freeze them for five minutes to make them sweet and crisp. [Read more: 25 Healthful Snacks Under 200 Calories]

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    • Obesity Facts: America's 10 Least Obese Cities

      If you want to be skinny, surround yourself with skinny. A Gallup-Healthways poll released in March reveals that, overall, our nation's cities are getting fatter. But the 10 least-obese areas are bucking that trend, with an average obesity rate of 15.9 percent, well below the national average of 26.1, and half that of the country's fattest areas.

      So what are places like San Francisco and Naples, Fla., doing right? They offer easy access to fresh fruits and veggies, as well as safe places to exercise, say experts. And their residents have health insurance and make enough money to buy wholesome food for themselves and for their families. What's more, says cardiologist James Pope, chief science officer of Healthways, a Tennessee-based provider of health and wellness programs offered through health insurers, "people are less likely to become obese if their friends and acquaintances are not obese." In other words, healthful living can be contagious.

      And it's good to be a slim city. These areas report roughly 30 percent fewer cases of diabetes than do their obese counterparts. And people in fat cities are 58 percent more likely to have a heart attack, 34 percent more likely to have high blood pressure, 30 percent more likely to be depressed, and 23 percent more likely to have high cholesterol over the course of their lifetime, the new findings suggest. [Read more: Obesity Facts: America's 10 Least Obese Cities]