With many of us likely to spend a chunk of the long Thanksgiving weekend in an airport somewhere,
nutrition experts with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)
are reporting that while many airport restaurants are adding healthier options
to their menus, others still leave hungry travelers scrambling to find
PCRM dietitians studied 18 major airports in more than a
dozen states and found that 82 percent of airport restaurants now offer at
least one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free vegetarian entree -- three more
than last year.
Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport received the
highest score for the second year in a row, and the majority of airports
surveyed increased their healthful offerings since last year. But healthful
choices are still difficult to find at some airports, including Ronald Reagan
Washington National Airport and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International
PCRM's 10th annual Airport Food Review finds considerable
improvements since the inaugural review in 2001. Although some airports have
lost points from year to year, the overall trend is toward offering passengers
the healthful meals they need to handle the stress associated with air travel.
In 2001, the average
score was 57 percent. This score has risen 25 points to 82 percent. Detroit's
airport is the decade's most improved, rising from last place in 2001 with a
score of 33 percent to its current score of 96 percent.
A restaurant was rated as healthful if it served at least
one low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free breakfast, lunch, or dinner entree.
Healthful entrees at airports covered in this report include the Berkeley Vegan
Pizza at zpizza at the Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport and the
Tofusion Bowl at Ufood Grill in Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. San
Francisco International Airport's Harbor Village Kitchen offers a range of
healthful options, including a vegetable curry and rice plate, veggie samosas,
and vegetarian chow mein.
High-fiber, low-fat vegetarian foods have been shown to
reduce the risk of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. A recent review
published in the journal Diabetologia found that people who ate the most meat
had the highest risk of type 2 diabetes. A recent study in the American Journal
of Clinical Nutrition linked meaty diets to weight gain and concluded that
reducing meat consumption could lead to weight loss.
Overall, 82 percent of the restaurants at the 18 airports
examined for the report offered at least one healthful entree. Detroit remained
in first place for the third year in a row. The nation's two busiest airports
-- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and Chicago O'Hare
International Airport -- both fell to near the bottom of this year's list.
While 12 of the 18 airports surveyed saw an increase in
healthful options this year, five airports lost points. Phoenix Sky Harbor
International Airport was the biggest loser, with a seven point decrease from
last year's score. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport lost three points
and landed in last place with a score of 67 percent.
Washington, D.C.,-area travelers looking for healthier
options may want to consider flying out of Dulles International Airport, which
was this year's most improved with a gain of 21 points from its 2009 score of
Other airports showing significant improvements include Las
Vegas McCarran International Airport, which jumped 11 points from 2009, and
Miami International Airport, which rose nine points.