TV Stations Balk at Ad Linking Fatty Fast Food to Heart Disease
MIAMI—Miami TV stations have turned down a provocative commercial linking McDonald’s high-fat fare with heart disease. The nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) produced the ad, which shows a deceased man on a gurney still clutching a cheeseburger, to draw attention to Miami’s high rates of heart disease deaths and high density of fast-food restaurants. The ad, which ends with the words “I was lovin’ it”—a play on the McDonald’s slogan—has already aired in Washington, D.C.
A PCRM survey shows that Miami has four McDonald’s, Burger King, or KFC locations per square mile—more than five other cities with similar population sizes and than other cities in general. All other cities in PCRM’s survey, including Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and Cleveland, had fewer than one per square mile.
McDonald’s, the world’s largest fast-food chain, serves a long list of high-fat, high-cholesterol items and offers almost no healthful choices, according to an analysis by PCRM dietitians. Miami—which is only 35 square miles—has 63 McDonald’s restaurants.
“When you see the Golden Arches, you could be on the road to the Pearly Gates,” says Neal Barnard, M.D., PCRM’s president. “Busy families and children eating meaty, cheesy burgers and nuggets pay the price in obesity, heart disease, and hypertension. A health warning is essential.”
Heart disease kills nearly 1,500 residents of Miami each year. According to the National Association of County and City Health Officials, the death rate from heart disease in Miami is the second highest of all large U.S. cities—only Las Vegas has a higher rate.
Studies including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that people who consume fast food are at a higher risk of obesity, a key risk factor for heart disease. Regular consumption of high-fat, high-cholesterol foods increases the risk of heart disease, and studies find that even a single fatty meal can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder.
Founded in 1985, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is a nonprofit health organization that promotes preventive medicine, conducts clinical research, and encourages higher standards for ethics and effectiveness in research.