Intermountain pushes a healthy agenda for kids,
It used to be that the worst thing that could happen to you at a vending machine was your bag of Fritos got stuck on one of those metal coils. Well, for schoolchildren in Utah, vending machines just got a whole lot less satisfying. As part of a public service initiative called Live, sponsored by Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, fake vending machines have been planted in schools and other public places.
They don’t accept money and they don’t dispense any snacks. Instead, the bogus vending machines contain imitations of the usual fare. When someone pushes one of the machine’s buttons, he or she is treated not to a nougat-filled candy bar or a bag of salty, crispy chips, but instead, the machine delivers a borderline-snarky bit of advice meant to steer the snack-seeker toward a more healthful alternative.
Examples include: “How about you run to the grocery store and pick up some fresh fruit or somethin’? You could use a healthy snack, and the run wouldn’t hurt you either.” or “Potatoes come from Idaho; potato chips come from the deep fat fryer.”
“Our goal with the Live campaign is to approach this important issue from a child’s point of view and offer positive, helpful solutions for families,” says Dr. Tamara Sheffield, Intermountain’s medical director of community health and prevention.
One in four Utah children is overweight or obese, she added. “Live can help children be more physically active and make more healthy food choices. By coordinating with children, parents, schools and the medical community, we can reverse the direction this crisis is heading.”
A website supporting the Live effort, intermountainlive.org, also features a mobile app, games, posters, suggestions for healthier living and an online version of the deceptive vending machine along with a video.
Outliers agrees wholeheartedly with the cause of childhood nutrition, but we worry that these fake machines may soon be the target of kicks from frustrated kids.
Rex Healthcare says bye-bye to fries
Speaking of nutrition … Outliers has to admit we have a love-hate relationship with french fries. We know their faults and try to end our relationships with the spuds, but we always come crawling back. Who can say “no” to a tempting basket of crunchy, perfectly salted, deep-fried taters? But even with fries’ flavorful lure, there’s plenty of health-related reasons that tip the scales in favor of shunning the grease, and that’s exactly what the food service providers at Rex Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., are doing.
Last year, Rex eliminated deep-fried foods from patient meals, but still served them at their two cafes. That accounted for 17 tons of fries and 4,666 gallons of oil in 2011. Seventeen tons.
But that’s about to change. February marks Heart Month, and Rex officials say it’s the ideal time to wave goodbye to fried foods. Fans of alliteration and healthy eating will love February’s Fryerless Fridays, when food staff every Friday all through the month will depower the deep fryer to keep fried foods off its menus. This is another step in completely vanquishing fries, tater tots and other deep-fried items from the hospital.
The Fryless Fridays will extend into March, ridding chicken nuggets,
Sex and the single orangutan
An orangutan at a Cleveland zoo has become the first such animal in North America to receive an implanted birth control device.
The Plain Dealer reports that a Cleveland Clinic women’s health specialist made a house call at the zoo recently to demonstrate how to implant the contraceptive. It’s about 1½ inches long, slightly thicker than pencil lead and is meant for humans.
General curator Geoffrey Hall says the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo doesn’t want the young Bornean orangutan named Kira to breed, at least not yet. The procedure went well, and Kira was back on her feet within hours.
In exchange for her help, the clinic’s Dr. Judith Volkar was given a backstage tour of the zoo’s more exotic animals and got to sit on a giant tortoise.
If Outliers had a giant tortoise joke, we’d put it here. But you’ve got us stumped, Cleveland. chicken wings and fried chicken and fish from the menus. Rex officials plan on targeting vending machines as well.
“For now, the vending machines and Courtyard Cafe still have potato chips and other junk foods. Down the road, Jim Mcgrody, Rex’s director of culinary and nutrition services, plans to look at other ways to replace unhealthy choices with healthier options,” Rex spokesman Alan Wolf wrote in an e-mail.
Rex officials plan on removing its fryers in April and replacing them with convection ovens to reproduce the crisp food while saving calories from fat and money from oil. Gourmet baked potato wedges are one of the menu’s replacements. They’ll come prepared in varieties including Thai chili with garlic and cilantro, and dill pickle with sea salt and fresh dill and malt vinegar. A mix of spice blends will be on hand to further enhance flavors.
Many public schools have already banished deep-fried foods from their cafeterias. Rex officials say they’re the first hospital in North Carolina to ditch the deep fryer.
Seasoned baked potato wedges will replace fries on the menu at Rex this spring.
Part of the Live campaign are posters that use humor to steer kids toward healthy habits.