CHICAGO—A provocative commercial set in a morgue that links McDonald’s high-fat fare with heart disease aired in Chicago during morning television news shows Thursday, Nov. 4. The ad, produced by the nonprofit Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), takes aim at McDonald’s high-fat menu, with the goal of drawing Chicagoans’ attention to the city’s high rates of heart disease deaths and its high density of fast-food restaurants. PCRM has also written to Mayor Richard M. Daley asking him to impose a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants in the city.
The ad, which has already aired in Washington, D.C., shows a dead man on a gurney still clutching a cheeseburger and ends with the words “I was lovin’ it”—a play on the McDonald’s slogan. It has received more than 1 million hits on YouTube and has been the second most-viewed video in the Nonprofits & Activism category for the last month. In Chicago, it will air during American Morning on CNN, Fox and Friends on Fox, and Morning Joe on MSNBC.
Cardiovascular disease killed almost 8,400 people in Chicago in 2003, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. A PCRM survey of the six largest cities in the United States shows Chicago has most fast-food restaurants per person, except Houston. Even a larger city like Los Angeles has only two-thirds as many McDonald’s outlets as Chicago does.
“Chicagoan’s addiction to Big Macs and other high-fat fast food is literally breaking their hearts,” says PCRM’s nutrition education director Susan Levin, M.S., R.D. “Busy families and children who are eating meaty, cheesy burgers and chicken nuggets pay the price in obesity, heart disease, and hypertension. A moratorium would give the city time to recoup its health.”
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. Offerings include products such as McDonald’s Double Quarter Pounder with Cheese Extra Value Meal, which has 61 grams of fat and 1,650 milligrams of sodium.
People who consume fast food are at a higher risk of obesity, a key risk factor for heart disease, according to a number of studies, including one from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Regular consumption of high-fat, high-cholesterol foods increases the risk of heart disease, and studies show 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.