Michael Mansfield, U.S. Doctors Ask Downing Street to Ban Junk Food Photo Ops for Cameron, Cabinet

The Physicians Committee
NEWS RELEASE May 31, 2012
Michael Mansfield, U.S. Doctors Ask Downing Street to Ban Junk Food Photo Ops for Cameron, Cabinet
Neal Barnard, M.D.

Photos of Prime Minister Eating Hot Dogs, Sausage Send Unhealthy Message amid Cancer Crisis

WASHINGTON –A prominent British barrister and a Washington-based physicians nonprofit want Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet to stop stuffing their faces with sausage in front of news cameras. In a joint letter dated May 24, Michael Mansfield, Q.C., and Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine president Neal Barnard, M.D., urge Cameron to pass a policy that would ban staged official photo ops that depict the prime minister, the deputy prime minister, and members of the cabinet with unhealthful foods like processed meats that can cause cancer and obesity.

“Prime Minister Cameron has backed a ‘fat tax’ on unhealthy foods to stem Britain’s obesity crisis. So why is he setting a bad personal example by chowing down on junk food for the cameras?” Dr. Barnard says. “Hot dogs, sausage, and other unhealthful foods have already contributed to rising cancer rates in Britain. The prime minister is free to eat what he likes in private, but at orchestrated public events, our leaders are role models.”

Since taking office, Cameron has posed for the cameras in staged events, like eating hot dogs at a basketball game with U.S. President Barack Obama, serving barbecue to British and U.S. service members at Downing Street, and standing next to a hot dog cart with New York mayor Michael Bloomberg. His predecessors have also touted unhealthy food. For instance, Tony Blair posed behind a fast-food counter for a photo op in 1996.

The letter requesting a policy change argues that food-oriented photo ops featuring prominent leaders receive massive publicity, akin to product placement in movies, and drown out the government’s health messages.

PCRM recently filed a similar petition for executive action with the White House, asking for a ban on staged junk food photo ops featuring President Obama, the first family, and members of his cabinet.

Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of colorectal cancer, according to dozens of studies, including the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC) study, and is also linked to diabetes and heart disease. A recent study from the Harvard School of Public Health showed that a daily serving of processed meats, like hot dogs, sausages, and bacon, increases the risk of premature death by 20 percent.

More than 13,000 Britons died of bowel or colorectal cancer in 2010, according to the National Health Service (NHS). A study the same year predicted that colon cancer cases in the U.K. would rise by 50 percent over the next 30 years. The Foresight report, a scientific report used to guide government policy, has predicted that by 2025, nearly half of men and over a third of women in the U.K. will be obese.

For a copy of the letter or for an interview with PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin, contact Jessica Frost at 202-527-7342 or jfrost@pcrm.org.

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.

Media Contact:
Jessica Frost
202-527-7342 office
202-607-0952 cell
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