Introduction: Hospitals are the primary worksite of over 5 million adults in the United States, and millions of meals are procured and consumed in this setting. Because many worksite nutrition initiatives use an ecological framework to improve the dietary habits of employees, the nutrition values of foods served in hospitals is receiving attention.
Methods: This study used the Hospital Nutrition Environment Scan for Cafeterias, Vending Machines, and Gift Shops to quantitatively describe the consumer nutrition environments of 39 hospitals in Southern California. Data were collected by visiting each facility once from February 2012 through May 2012.
Results: On average, hospitals achieved only 29%, 33%, and less than 1% of the total possible points for their cafeteria, vending machines, and gift shops sections, respectively; overall, hospitals scored 25% of the total possible points. Large facility size and contracted food service operations were associated with some healthy practices in hospital cafeterias, but we found no association between these variables and the sectional or overall nutrition composite scores.
Conclusion: The average consumer nutrition environment of hospitals in this sample was minimally conducive to healthful eating. Nutrition-related interventions are warranted in hospital settings.