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Physicians’ group rates airports for healthy eating options

A lot of the food served at the nation’s major airports isn’t what you could call healthy. But new research by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) reveals that the harried business traveler can usually find something on the menu that qualifies—although the odds vary from one airport to another.

The PCRM checked out the menus in restaurants at 18 of the nation’s largest airports (that did not include snack food kiosks or small coffee shops) and determined that 76 percent of them offered at least one healthy option—defined as a “low-fat, high-fiber, cholesterol-free entree.” That compares with just 57 percent of airport restaurants that did so 11 years ago, the group noted.

At the top of their list—for the first time—was Newark Liberty International, where 92 percent of the eateries offered at least one healthy entree. That included things like a falafel sandwich at Mediterranean Bistro and a hummus wrap at Market Fresh, among many other selections.

“Despite the variety of healthful options at many airports, high-fat, high-cholesterol foods are still abundant,” PCRM observed. “Terminals at Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta are clogged with eateries serving hot dogs, fried chicken and pizza. Many restaurants at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport offer only burgers or other greasy bar food.”

Needless to say, ATL and DCA ranked at the bottom of the 18-airport list.

Ranking second for healthy dining options at 91 percent was Las Vegas McCarran, which rose up from fifth place the previous year and last place three years ago. Detroit Metro was in third place (90 percent), followed by Houston Bush Intercontinental (87 percent). Chicago O’Hare and Miami International tied for fifth place at 84 percent, followed by Orlando, Washington Dulles and Phoenix Sky Harbor, all with an 82 percent score.

O’Hare showed the greatest improvement from last year, up 13 points; the biggest drop in the healthy dining scores was at San Francisco International, which fell from 96 percent to 77 percent, PCRM said.

“Although some airports have lost points from year to year, the overall trend is toward offering passengers the nutritious meals they need to maintain a healthy diet and handle the stress associated with air travel,” the group said.

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