Is President Obama sending the wrong message whenever he eats unhealthful food on camera, such as a hamburger or hot dog? Washington, DC-based organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) says yes, and it's raising awareness about the issue. From USA Today:
The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a Washington-based group, plans to file a petition Thursday calling for "an executive order banning staged official photo ops that depict the president, the first family, the vice president, and members of the president's cabinet with unhealthful foods including processed meats that can cause cancer and obesity."
Since taking office, President Obama has posed for the cameras in staged events eating hot dogs at a basketball game with British Prime Minister David Cameron; serving sausages with Mr. Cameron; taking a motorcade with the vice president to Ray's Hell Burger in Virginia; eating cheeseburgers with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev; and stopping at a D.C. burger restaurant with a reporter, among other similar instances, with healthful foods largely neglected.
His predecessors, including George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and Ronald Reagan have also posed with unhealthful foods at official photo-ops.
The Petition for Executive Action argues that White House food-oriented photo ops receive massive publicity, akin to product placement in movies, and drown out the government's health messages, such as the USDA's Dietary Guidelines for Americans, contributing to ignorance about health and nutrition. 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.
Widely publicized photographs of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt eating a hot dog are credited with pushing a generally unpopular product into national prominence. Now Americans consume 7 billion hot dogs between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year.
On their Facebook page PCRM is asking for photos of President Obama or former US presidents eating fast food.
About the author: Robyn Lee is the editor of A Hamburger Today and takes many of the photos for Serious Eats. She'll also doodle cute stuff when necessary. Read more from Robyn at her personal food blog, The Girl Who Ate Everything.