WASHINGTON—A billboard near Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, Pa., is urging baseball fans to keep bacon off their plates. The billboard is part of an effort by the Physicians Committee—a nonprofit of 12,000 physicians—to encourage the Lehigh Valley IronPigs to bench the bacon and add health-promoting foods to the starting lineup.
The billboard reads, “Keep Bacon Off Your Plate. One serving a day may increase risk of colorectal cancer by 21 percent.” Fans heading to the ballpark can see the billboard when traveling east on Tilghman St. Bridge starting on April 13.
“Consuming just one serving of bacon a day can dramatically increase the risk for colorectal cancer, heart disease, and diabetes,” warns Physicians Committee dietitian Cameron Wells, M.P.H., R.D. “This baseball season, don’t let bacon strike you out.”
Preventable lifestyle diseases now account for seven in 10 American deaths. In Pennsylvania alone, more than 1 million people have diabetes, while nearly 3 million suffer from hypertension. Of states with the highest rates of obesity, Pennsylvania is the only Northeastern state to crack the top 20. In Lehigh County, 63 percent of adults struggle with their weight.
In light of these statistics, the Physicians Committee sent a letter to the IronPigs suggesting that the team introduce a new broccoli mascot to encourage fans to up their vegetable intake.
“If broccoli – filled with disease-fighting fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants – were in a race with bacon, it would win every time,” says Wells, in reference to the team’s popular mascot race that currently pits mascot Chris P. Bacon against a group of other costumed processed meat products, including ham, a pulled pork sandwich, and a hot dog.
A panel of America’s top nutrition experts recently warned against processed meat products and encouraged the U.S. government to exclude them from the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. The panel also found that 89 percent of Americans fall short on daily vegetable consumption, with the average Pennsylvanian consuming only 1.5 servings per day.
“By moving broccoli into the starting lineup, the IronPigs would knock one out of the park for the health of their fans,” says Wells.
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 and medical training.