McDonald's defends its menu, citing healthy meal options such as salads, apple slices instead of fries, low-fat yogurt, and fresh fruit.
While those options are available, most folks gravitate to the burgers and fries. The reality is that most Americans, particularly during times of stress such as caring for a loved one in the hospital, choose the less-healthy comfort foods.
If most folks objected strongly to having a McDonald's restaurant in a hospital, poor sales would dictate an end to their relationship with hospitals. That has not been the case.
Let's not let the hospitals off the hook on this one: The food served in most hospital cafeterias is no healthier than the food at McDonald's restaurant - and sometimes is far worse. Bacon, sausage, hash browns, and greasy grilled meats are no healthier than McDonald's worst.
Yes, folks should be offered healthy fare both in and out of the hospital to keep them out of the hospital. In the end, hospitals are competitive businesses that seek to please the customer.
Q: I was treated for an infection in my stomach because of Helicobacter pylori bacteria. When I asked my doctor how I got it, he didn't know. Do you?
A: We used to think that with all that hydrochloric acid in the stomach, nothing could live. We thought that the stomach was a sterile environment.
However, Drs. Marshall and Warren of Australia proved in 1983 that we were wrong. A spiral-shaped bacteria known as Helicobacter pylori lives in the stomach and first part of the small intestine (duodenum) of about half the people of the world.
Over the years, we've been drinking gallons of antacid, taking pounds of Tums or Rolaids, and spending billions on prescription acid blockers when what we should have been doing is checking to see if the curly pest Helicobacter pylori was behind it all.
In answer to your question as to how you got Helicobacter pylori infection, I'm not sure either. However, it's probably transmitted either mouth to mouth by kissing or sharing food, or through drinking water contaminated by fecal matter, or swimming in water infected with the bacteria.
Here's where it gets tricky: Between 10 percent and 80 percent of "normal, healthy" people have Helicobacter pylori and feel fine. We still don't fully know why. However, from 70 percent to 97 percent of those with duodenal ulcers have the bugs; 60 percent to 90 percent of those with stomach ulcers have the bugs.
From the cutting-edge research files: Helicobacter pylori bacteria are currently being investigated as a possible cause of diabetes.
Mitchell Hecht specializes in internal medicine. Send questions to him at: "Ask Dr. H," Box 767787, Atlanta, Ga. 30076. Due to the large volume of mail received, personal replies are not possible.