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Burger Kingfrench fries photographed in the Globe and Mail Studio, July 15, 2010. (Tim Fraser For The Globe and Mail)
Burger Kingfrench fries photographed in the Globe and Mail Studio, July 15, 2010. (Tim Fraser For The Globe and Mail)

Globe Editorial

Ending the war on burgers Add to ...

Some may regard the banishment of a Burger King from the food court of Toronto's Hospital for Sick Children this month as a victory in the war on obesity. Some victory. It was won on the backs (and tummies) of the most vulnerable people in our society, their families and friends, and the people who work with them.

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Do children who have cancer or facial disfigurements or acute pain face a danger from hamburgers and fries? No one even claims they do. It is not even about the children who use the hospital's services, or others who seek out a little comfort food. It is about the messaging. Consistency is said to be everything. A hospital (in this view) can't be against obesity and still offer hamburgers in its food court.

But why should people who are in hospital at the worst time of their lives (this applies equally to parents and others sitting vigil, as it does children in treatment) be denied what others have easy access to? Is this a victory? If so, what an easy victory it was. The other army has no weapons, no voice.

Let's face it, what happens in a hospital, even in the best of hospitals, is highly unpleasant. It is not only unpleasant for the sick children, many of whom are too sick to eat there anyway. It's a Prohibition-like zealotry that would deprive their siblings, and friends, and others, including stressed health care workers, of a little comfort. A pediatrician at the hospital even started a Facebook group to push Burger King out. Its 258 members are a drop in the bucket next to those who eat at the busy station each week - including doctors in scrubs. Did anyone ask those people what they thought?

A hamburger is not a cigarette, and the hospital did not make a deal with the devil when its charitable arm accepted more than $2.5-million in donations since 1999 from Burger King. You really can eat just one.

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