Hotel Mints Contribute To Obesity Epidemic, Study Finds

Leaving chocolates on hotel bed pillows during the evening “turn down” service has long been standard practice among fine establishments in the hospitality industry, but a new report out today has slammed the tradition for contributing to the growing obesity epidemic.

According to the Society For Prevention Against A Portly Populace, the sweet treats are a primary contributor to “vacation belly” – the sudden and enduring weight gain experienced by travelers following their break. Mark Smith, President of the society, says travelers are particularly vulnerable when it comes to sweet temptations, and the repercussions of caving in to cravings are likely to be felt on the thighs and hips for a long time to come. “People tend to be more relaxed when they’re on vacation, so exerting the willpower necessary to stay away from chocolates is actually much harder,” says Smith. “They get back to their room after a pleasant day of sightseeing, notice the mint on the pillow, and think ‘Oh, what the heck, I’m on vacation, I might as well put the diet on vacation too.’”Unfortunately, most travelers don’t just stop at one mint. The International Organization of Hotel Sundries says a growing number of guests call down to reception claiming housekeeping “forgot” to leave them a mint. “Although we never argue with guests, we know they’re just fishing for extras,” says chairman Alex Flinch. “Just like we do with towels and bedding, we keep strict tabs on how many chocolates are left in each room.” Flinch says many hotels are forced to special order extra mints as supplies dwindle because of guests pinching chocolates from unattended housekeeping carts in hotel corridors.

The authors of the report estimate the hotel mints are costing the health industry around $12 billion dollars a year, mostly in the form of travelers needing liposuction before embarking on their next vacation where the costly mint-eating habit resumes. Experts say the best way of halting the vicious cycle is for hotels to stop the practice of leaving mints during turn down, or at the very least, reducing the size of the chocolates. In 1950, the average hotel mint was the size of a dime – or around 3 calories. Today’s mints are packed with nearly 26 times the amount of fat as their ancestors.

[Photo credit: Flickr user Dan Perry]