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20/01/03 . By FRANK LOMBARDI . Daily News City Hall Bureau . New York, USA  
City may order McD's to go from hospitals  
Mayor Bloomberg's planned campaign to reduce obesity in children could mean that the McDonald's franchises in three municipal hospitals could get the boot when leases are up, the Daily News has learned.  

"To tell you the truth, if it were up to me, I wouldn't have necessarily contracted with fast foods," said Dr. Benjamin Chu, president of the city's Health and Hospitals Corp.

Under contracts awarded during former Mayor Rudy Giuliani's administration, McDonald's has outlets at Elmhurst Hospital Center in Queens, Harlem Hospital in Manhattan and Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

"We're going to look at it as the contracts come up for renewal," said Chu, whose agency runs 11 acute care hospitals and 100 community clinics.

Chu said no final decision has been made, noting the deals do not begin to expire until next year.

The mayor announced this month plans to mount a health and nutrition program targeting overweight kids.

The public service campaign is part of a nationwide effort to bring attention to the issue. The News spotlighted the problem yesterday, noting that 15% of U.S. young people ages 6 to 19 are overweight.

Fatty funds

The three fast-food outlets combined pay the HHC $281,000 a year, money used for auxiliary patient care, officials said.

Although McDonald's menu includes salads, grilled chicken and diet drinks, Chu acknowledged that customers prefer the fattier burgers and French fries.

"We have been pushing [the three restaurants] to try to get healthier choices on the menu," Chu said. "But of course, when you look at McDonald's Big Mac, how much healthier can you make the Big Mac?"

Adam Salgado, marketing manager for McDonald's New York Metro Region, defended the chain's hospital menu, saying it "provides a wide range of food choices and serves high-quality products that offer nutritious options for consumers."

Originally published on January 20, 2003

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