Las Vegas Slides in Rankings; Ronald Reagan Washington National Makes Big Gains
More than 100 million travelers passing through airports this holiday season can find a healthful meal in most terminals: 76 percent of restaurants in 18 of the nation’s busiest airports offer at least one cholesterol-free, plant-based entrée, according to a new report from the nonprofit Physicians Committee. But healthful food choices remain harder to find in some airports, including Las Vegas McCarran International and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
The number of airport restaurants offering healthful nutrient-packed foods, such as leafy green salads, red pepper veggie wraps, and black bean burgers, continues to increase from 2001, when the Physicians Committee’s inaugural airport food review found just 57 percent of airport eateries offering at least one healthful option.
Denver International Airport soars to the top of the 2013 report for the first time since 2003 with a score of 86 percent. It’s a dramatic improvement from 2001, when just 61 percent of its restaurants offered a high-fiber, plant-based option.
“We’re finding more and more people continue to opt for healthful plant-based vegetarian options,” says Physician Committee director of nutrition education Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., C.S.S.D. “Everyone wants to maximize their health, beat the flu, and be in a better mood—and they realize their diet can help make all of this happen.”
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport makes the most impressive gain this year, with a 14-point increase, and ties with Los Angeles International as the third healthiest airport.
Las Vegas McCarran International Airport takes a nosedive, with a 23-point decrease from last year’s score, moving the airport from second to second-to-last place. Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson loses 7 points and finishes last with a score of 51 percent.
Table 1: Airport Scores for 2013
Airport Score Healthful Restaurants/Total Restaurants
1. Denver International Airport 86% 55/64
2. (tie) Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport 85% 46/54
2. (tie) Chicago O’Hare International Airport 85% 78/92
3. (tie) Los Angeles International Airport 83% 49/59
3. (tie) Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport 83% 24/29
4. (tie) Baltimore/Washington International Airport 80% 33/41
4. (tie) Washington Dulles International Airport 80% 32/40
5. (tie) Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport 79% 46/58
5. (tie) Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport 79% 81/103
6. San Francisco International Airport 76% 52/68
7. Newark Liberty International Airport 74% 56/76
8. Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport 73% 53/73
9. Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport 72% 48/67
10. (tie) Orlando International Airport 71% 30/42
10. (tie) Miami International Airport 71% 55/78
11. Charlotte Douglas International Airport 70% 31/44
12. Las Vegas McCarran International Airport 68% 40/59
13. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport 51% 53/103
Physicians Committee dietitians surveyed restaurant meals at 18 major airports in more than a dozen states for the report. They gave each restaurant a point if its menu includes at least one high-fiber, cholesterol-free entrée. The final percentage score divides the airport's number of restaurants serving health-conscious fare by its total number of restaurants.