Most of us associate certain events and environments with certain kinds of food.
For instance, who among us doesn't associate hospital food with gray mystery meat coated in gravy?
But Get Healthy CT, a coalition of businesses and other organizations in greater Bridgeport aiming to curb obesity, wants to change all that.
The coalition is asking businesses in the region to sign a "Healthy Eating Pledge," vowing to serve healthy options at events and meetings, in addition to, or instead of, doughnuts, croissants and the like.
Bridgeport Hospital is one of about 40 businesses that have signed the pledge. Others include the Bridgeport YMCA, the Bridgeport Regional Business Council, health departments in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Stratford and Trumbull and St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport.
Though the annual "F as in Fat" report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation regularly shows that Connecticut has one of the lowest obesity rates in the nation, the rate grew from 11.8 percent in 1995 to 21.8 percent last year.
Salsgiver said hospitals have an obvious interest in reducing obesity, as it is linked to health problems such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and certain kinds of cancer. "Basically, our goal with Get Healthy CT is to remove barriers to healthy eating and physical activity," Salsgiver said. The healthy eating pledge is a big step in that direction, she said.
Get Healthy CT is also encouraging businesses that have an on-site cafeteria or other food service to add more healthy options. Bridgeport Hospital has already done so. Last year, the hospital renovated its main cafeteria, renamed Fresh Inspirations, and added a number of healthy options. Items on the cafeteria's menu carry symbols marking them as healthy options -- meaning they're low in calories, fat, sodium and the like -- vegetarian options or vegan options. The menus also contain nutrition information about food items, including calorie counts.
The healthier cafeteria has been a big hit with staff and other patrons, said Frank Strazza, the hospital's food and nutrition operations manager. "People love it," he said. "They look forward to coming here."
To learn about the pledge and Get Healthy CT, visit www.GetHealthyCT.org.
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