Use of Nutrition Standards to Improve Nutritional Quality of Hospital Patient Meals: Findings from New York City's Healthy Hospital Food Initiative

Alyssa Moran, Ashley Lederer, Christine Johnson Curtis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Most hospital patient meals are considered regular-diet meals; these meals are not required to meet comprehensive nutrition standards for a healthy diet. Although programs exist to improve nutrition in hospital food, the focus is on retail settings such as vending machines and cafeterias vs patient meals. New York City's Healthy Hospital Food Initiative (HHFI) provides nutrition standards for regular-diet meals that hospitals can adopt, in addition to retail standards. Objective: This study was undertaken to describe regular-diet patient menus before and after implementation of the HHFI nutrition standards. Design: The study involved pre- and post- menu change analyses of hospitals participating in the HHFI between 2010 and 2014. Participants/setting: Eight New York City hospitals, selected based on voluntary participation in the HHFI, were included in the analyses. Main outcome measures: Nutritional content of regular-diet menus were compared with the HHFI nutrition standards. Statistical analyses performed: Nutrient analysis and exact Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used for the analysis of the data. Results: At baseline, no regular-diet menu met all HHFI standards, and most exceeded the daily limits for percentage of calories from fat (n=5), percentage of calories from saturated fat (n=5), and milligrams of sodium (n=6), and they did not meet the minimum grams of fiber (n=7). Hospitals met all key nutrient standards after implementation, increasing fiber (25%, P<0.01) and decreasing sodium (-19%, P<0.05), percentage of calories from fat (-24%, P<0.01), and percentage of calories from saturated fat (-21%, P<0.05). A significant increase was seen in fresh fruit servings (667%, P<0.05) and decreases in full-fat and reduced-fat milk servings (-100%, P<0.05), refined grain servings (-35%, P<0.05), and frequency of desserts (-92%, P<0.05). Conclusions: Regular diet menus did not comply with the HHFI nutrition standards at baseline. Using the HHFI framework, hospitals significantly improved the nutritional quality of regular-diet patient menus. The standards were applied across hospitals of varying sizes, locations, menu types, and food service operations, indicating feasibility of this framework in a range of hospital settings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1847-1854
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume115
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2015
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Food policy
  • Food service
  • Hospital
  • Obesity
  • Patient meals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Use of Nutrition Standards to Improve Nutritional Quality of Hospital Patient Meals: Findings from New York City's Healthy Hospital Food Initiative'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this