Cucuzzella’s crusade: the sugar paradox in U.S. hospitals

Vegetarian keto

Dr. Mark Cucuzzella, MD, is a professor at West Virginia University School of Medicine and he has a bone to pick with U.S. hospitals. As he points out in a recent article:

Physicians know that excessive sugar consumption leads to a host of ailments. Yet today’s hospitals are veritable sugar shacks.

This doesn’t make sense.

And he’s not just talking about the vending machines selling sugary sodas. Often, patients recovering from surgery or illness are given a “protein shake”. But “sugar shake” might be a better word for them: Cucuzzella provides nutritional information for these shakes, one of which contains 41 g of carbohydrates and only 10 g of protein.

Patients are also commonly advised to drink Gatorade for a source of electrolytes. “But,” warns Cucuzzella, “just 32 ounces of Gatorade contains 56 grams of sugar — double what the World Health Organization recommends per day”.

The hospital that Cucuzzella is associated with, West Virginia’s Jefferson Medical Center (JMC), has now removed all sugary drinks from its vending machines and cafeterias after years of advocacy by Cucuzzella. And he hopes that other hospitals will continue to step up.

Hospitals have a duty to make people healthy. They can start fulfilling that mission by banning sugary drinks.

Hats off to Dr. Cucuzzella for pushing through with this important mission.

Read more here:

Salon: Get sugary drinks out of hospitals >

Related articles

10 tips for getting low-carb food in the hospital

British hospital bans sugar to stave off obesity among employees

Videos with Dr. Mark Cucuzzella

  • Does fitness equal health?
  • "This should be standard of care"
  • Run – and eat – for your life


  1. stealth
    It's not just sugary drinks that are the culprit in hospitals. Walk into any hospital at breakfast time and it's a veritable gallery of carbs: waffles, pancakes and/or cereal, toast with jam, fruit, juice, sweetened yogurt, and sugar for coffee or tea. Protein appears only on occasion in the form of turkey sausage or scrambled eggs (usually with potatoes and toast with jam) and often the only fat on the tray (other than what is in the eggs and meat) is a teaspoon-sized serving of margarine.

    I know too many Type II diabetics forced to take insulin in the hospital because their blood sugars were soaring, at least in part from the horrible food choices.


  2. Valerie
    An MD could make an argument for removing saturated fats from hospital. He would have as much data backing his proposition and he could gain as much support as Cucuzella.

    I for one don't want someone else deciding what I am allowed to eat or not if I ever end up in a hospital.

  3. Cassieoz
    Oh Valerie, you already do. The Nutritionists have already removed the fat and salt in the name of your welfare. Hospital food is revolting because it's driven by orthodox guidelines and 'as cheap as possible'. In the six months between two recent hospital stays, my local private hospital removed any cooked option other than oatmeal from the breakfast menu. No more eggs or bacon (too expensive, too inconvenient) and now offer cereal, toast/margarine/preserves, juice, canned fruit and sweetened yoghurt for all breakfasts. Even in my days pre-keto I never went to hospital without butter, cheese and salt. The hospitals quietly tell themselves they do no harm because they've chopped the average length-of-admission, not because they generally provide good food.
  4. LordM28
    Someone else deciding what you are allowed to eat in a hospital?
    Well, a hospital is not a hotel, it is a highly regulated professional health service provider, and eating hospital provided food during your stay is part of the service, which again, is regulated by health professionals, not by you.
  5. Marie
    It actually is regulated by big agra and big everything else. You only think you have freedom of choice. If you want to be/stay healthy you probably would be better off in a hotel.
  6. Robin
    One of my biggest concerns after being strict Keto and fat adapted for a year now is ending up in the hospital and having them put an IV full of carbs in me for nutrition - the last time they did that was in 2009 and they gave me insulin injections 3x a day for a month, and it really screwed me up. Now that I have reversed out of T2 diabetes (down from 6.8 to 5.6 in 1 year) I don't ever want to be fed a carb IV again! I want to know if there is a "healthy" Lipid IV that can be used for patients that are fat adapted and burning ketones!
  7. Do
    Robin, I agree. I actually stated in my Durable Power of Attorney for Health Care that I control my Type 2 Diabetes with a Ketogenic diet and would like that continued should I be confined to a hospital. I will try to have family bring in healthy food rather than eat the hospital food. I will do this as long as I have any control.
  8. Kati
    Perhaps it would be better to handle the feeding of patients in the same way as in many developing countries. Hospitals there do not provide food and patients must be provided for by family members. Hard to do, when everyone has a job or two keeping them busy. But a better option than being made or kept sick by inappropriate hospital food.
  9. ALK
    I get major AFib when I get lax about drinking my magnesium water and have just been released from hospital (5/23/18). Besides the horrible “food”, I now have two painful wrists. I have never had arthritis and believe whatever is going on now (6/14/18) is related to what was done to me in hospital. But at least my heart is beating normally once again.

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