Sunday, June 22, 2014

Cancer hospital approves free cigarette give away fundraising!

Somehow I doubt it.

I mean, accepting donations or funds raised by corporations whose very products contribute to the burden of disease in your hospital would be anathema to your responsibility as a hospital to promote public health and combat disease, wouldn't it?

But what if your hospital really, really needed the money?

Um, it's a tobacco company handing out free cigarettes and simultaneously asking for hospital donations.

Yeah, there's not too much debate there. It's not good, right?

So why do our hospitals, specifically our children's hospitals, regularly partner up with the purveyors of sugary treats to raise money in their names?

These photos, taken by an anonymous tipster from Toronto, show a recent Dairy Queen Guinness Book of World Records attempt at making the world's largest ice cream cake. Stamped right on the sign, "donations to Sick Kids Hospital will be accepted" in lieu of course of free ice cream cake.

And the same happens here in Ottawa where CHEO regularly partners up with Dairy Queen to raise funds.

I wonder what the HALO team at CHEO think about these partnerships - they're the folks who are busily researching means to try to help combat the rapid rise in childhood obesity in Canada.

Guessing they might think that children's hospitals probably shouldn't be in the brand polishing business for Dairy Queen.

That same tipster did some quick calculations.

The cake?

Through it, Dairy Queen distributed 5,000lbs worth of calories, 4,276.8lbs of added sugars and 44.5lbs of trans fat all with the blessing (they used Sick Kids' logo - they had their explicit blessing) of the Hospital for Sick Children.

These partnerships have got to stop.

I know, I know, fast food's not going away, and children definitely still need to enjoy cake from time to time, but that doesn't mean it's ethical or responsible for hospitals to help in its sale or promotion.

Hospitals used to sell cigarettes too you know.

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  1. I feel like the hospital could've partially justified this by posting nutrition info for the cake and/or having a kid-friendly Cookie Monster-like mascot on hand to explain that ice cream cake is a sometimes treat. Wouldn't come near COMPLETELY justifying it, of course, but if they're so desperately in need of funds that they have to partner with Dairy Queen they ought to have at least done some damage control.

  2. The ADA (American Dietetic Association) has many Dietitians upset regarding their sponsorships, too. Many of us are not members for this and other reasons.
    Nancy Ortiz, MS, RD
    The Frugal Dietitian

  3. First they have to accept that sugar is dangerous product, as are grains, trans-fats, seed oils (often called vegetable oils) and other manufactured eatable products.

    Could you accept that your livelihood product and food belief system was damaging people, without overwhelming proof?

    We all, that know, can step back and quit using the dangerous products. Personal responsibility can overcome a lot of bad direction and information.

  4. Anonymous8:34 am

    Somewhere there can be a balance between the DQs of the world and their desire and ability to raise money for children's hospitals and other charitable organizations. Look at Ronald McDonald House and TimBits hockey or Tim Horton's camps for kids. A lot of these corporations are doing a lot of good - perhaps just a way to relieve there social conscience - good nonetheless. While your cigarette comparison brings the point home it is not quite the same thing. We need food to live and enjoying sugary treats occassionaly is fine. From bake sales at schools, to gala fundraising dinners food and raising money have long been connected. Perhaps the solution is to increase consumer awareness about moderation and help parents to teach their childen the definition of a treat! This is the age of intense consumerism - food is just one of the more obvious things in which we are overindulging - but I digress. My point is that big food can continue to provide big help and change their ways at the same time the two are not mutually exclusive but consumers have to lead the charge!

  5. I am always saddened by how much hospitals in Ontario seems to have to scratch and claw to get the money they need to run their operations or to maintain their “world-classness”. Unfortunately, a dubious partnership with a fast food chain is infinitely more palatable than a tax increase so I suspect we’ll be enduring such hypocrisy for quite a while. It has been my experience that hospitals are in the business of fixing you for a little money as possible and not particularly concerned in how to keep you from getting there is in the first place.

  6. Anonymous11:56 am

    Here's a thought: Let's provide enough funding to hospitals so that they don't need donations?