Doctors Group Petitions Obama to Quit Eating Junk Food in Public

AP

First lady Michelle Obama may have made it her mission tackle childhood obesity, but her efforts seem to have done little to quash her husband’s love of junk food: We’ve all seen the photos of President Barack Obama wolfing down his share of hot dogs, burgers and fries.

Now, a group of doctors has a message for the president: Quit eating junk in front of the cameras.

“The White House would never set up a photo op showing the president buying cigarettes, so why is it okay to show him eating a hot dog?” said Susan Levin, director of nutrition education at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

The Washington-based group plans to launch a formal petition Thursday calling for an “executive order banning staged photo opportunities that show the president, the first family, the vice president, and members of the president’s cabinet eating unhealthy foods—including processed meats—that can cause cancer and obesity.”

“Processed meats like hot dogs kill more Americans each year than tobacco does, and they cost taxpayers billions of dollars in healthcare. As role model to millions of Americans the president has a responsibility to watch what he eats in public,” Levin said.

More from the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:

Since taking office, President Obama has posed for the cameras eating a hot dog at a basketball game with British Prime Minister David Cameron, eating cheeseburgers with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, and stopping at a D.C. burger restaurant to share a cheeseburger with a reporter, among other similar instances. His predecessors, including Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Ronald Reagan have also been caught on camera eating unhealthy foods, from ice cream to a Big Mac.

The Petition for Executive Action argues that such photographs are better publicized than health messages like the USDA’s dietary guidelines, and are likely to add to ignorance about health and nutrition.

Widely publicized photographs of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt eating a hot dog are credited with popularizing what once used to be a widely disliked food. Now Americans consume 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.

The petition also contends that the photo ops, often held at restaurants, are akin to free product placement by the public officials. For instance, President Obama gave the Five Guys Burger and Fries chain a publicity boost when he stopped at one of its Washington outlets in 2009 with NBC news anchor Brian Williams.

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