Doctors Link Washington’s Heart Disease Rates to High Concentration of Golden Arches, Other Fast-Food Outlets
WASHINGTON—A provocative fast-food commercial set in a morgue will air during The Daily Show and local news broadcasts Sept. 16. 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 Washingtonians’ attention to the city’s high rates of heart disease deaths and its high density of fast-food restaurants.
“Our city’s addiction to Big Macs and other high-fat fast food is literally breaking our hearts,” says Susan Levin, M.S., R.D., PCRM’s nutrition education director. “It’s time to tackle the district’s heart disease problem head-on. A moratorium on new fast-food restaurants could be a critically important step toward fighting this epidemic.”
A PCRM survey shows that Washington has more McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC outlets per square mile than eight other cities with similar population sizes. Offerings at these restaurants include high-fat, high-sodium 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.
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.
Heart disease kills more than 1,500 residents of the district each year. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the age-adjusted death rate from heart disease in the city is the second highest in the country, above high-obesity states like Alabama, Kentucky, Oklahoma, and West Virginia.
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 have found that even a single fatty meal can raise blood pressure, stiffen major arteries, and cause the heart to beat harder.
The commercial will air in other fast-food addicted cities with high rates of heart disease over the following months.
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.