Daley urged to halt fast food restaurant construction

By Emily Bryson York
Posted Oct. 29, 2010 at 2:57 p.m.

A group that lobbies against fast food and meat consumption will ask Mayor Richard Daley to temporarily stop fast food restaurant construction.

In a Nov. 4 letter shared with the Tribune, a director of nutrition at The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine writes that fast food consumption leads to obesity and heart disease.

“This step is urgently needed because Chicago’s high-fat, meat-heavy diets are literally breaking hearts,” Susan Levin, the director of nutrition, writes. “A moratorium on new fast-food restaurants could be a critically important step toward fighting this epidemic.”

The Washington, D.C.-based group, which has protested grilled chicken as an unhealthy food at KFC restaurants, also plans to run a commercial in local markets Thursday, which has previously been aired in Washington, D.C. Set in a morgue, a woman grieves over the corpse of a man that’s still clutching a hamburger.  The group attempted to run the ad in Miami, but local TV stations declined to air it.

The ad’s narrator refers to “high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks.” The scene is followed by an image of McDonald’s arches, and the altered tagline “I was Lovin’ It” and the suggestion, “tonight, make it Vegetarian.” The ad will air on CNN’s “American Morning,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” and Fox’s “Fox and Friends.”

Though the committee enjoys credibility for being a physician’s organization, doctors make up less than 10 percent of its membership. The group’s primary objectives are limiting animal testing and promoting vegan diets.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for PCRM described it as “a physician-led organization with more than 10,000 physician members.” She added that fast food companies “like to focus on the fact that we accept support from non-physicians, but so do Doctors Without Borders and similar organizations.”

Mayor Daley’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment. In an email, a McDonalds spokeswoman declined to comment on the letter, noting that it’s something that “wasn’t sent to us and that we haven’t seen or read.” As for the commercial, she said, “we can’t speculate on what may or may not air.”

Earlier this year, PCRM released a list of best and worst cookbooks of the decade. Among the worst: Bobby Flay’s “Grilling for Life,” Paula Deen’s “Kitchen Classics” and Julia Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Child’s book made the list due to renewed interest from the movie “Julie and Julia.” Recommended cookbooks include: Alicia Silverstone’s “The Kind Diet,” Bryant Terry’s “Vegan Soul,” and Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin’s “Skinny Bitch in the Kitch: Kick Ass Recipes for Hungry Girls Who Want to Stop Cooking Crap (And Start Looking Hot!).”

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  1. Rob Oct. 29, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    What a bunch of horse s**t. Humans evolved as hunter-gatherers with meat as a significant part of their diet. Have you ever seen a healthy-looking vegan? No. They’re skinny, pale, pathetic shadows of their evolutionary ancestors. Go for a run, lift some weight, and eat a steak.

  2. Anne L. Oct. 29, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    It is not up to the government to police what people eat. There is enough information out there for everyone to understand that fast food is bad for you. If they still chose to eat it that is their problem.

  3. Don Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Wait a minute; what do cows eat? A vegan diet! So eating cows shouldn’t be a problem at all. When is the idiocy going to stop? Every time a bunch of cranks think that they know better than you how to live your life, they want the government to step in and mandate what they want. People have the right to make choices. The government certainly has a right, along others, to publish information so that the choices can be informed. And not always is the government right about things.

  4. Eat Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    I am a vegetarian. However I respect other people’s choice to eat meat. It is ridiculous of this group to try to stop fast food places from expanding by using government intervention. I certainly don’t want the government telling me what I can and cannot eat. You have to make your own decisions and live with the consequences.

  5. D Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I guess this group is against creating jobs and putting people to work. If it meant that people would not be out of work and not going hungry then I would put a fast food place on every street! It just goes to show how soft society has become. There is a group against everything so why even bother. Live your own life and live it to the fullest….

  6. reilly3 Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Nevermind what those thousands of physicians way, how about the best argument of all, that fast food dumps don’t just make the people look ugly, they make the city look ugly. I’d rather not live in cookie-cutter land like the ex-urbs–keep the city unique.

  7. wraith729 Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    I am so sick of people who want to force others to bend to their wills. If people want to eat a vegan diet, more power to them, I won’t stop them as long as they don’t stop me from eating what I want.

  8. David Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    Ridiculous publicity stunt. Granted, most fast food is unhealthy, but many fast food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s do have relatively healthy dishes, and most non-fast-food restaurants have numerous dishes just as bad if not worse in saturated fat, calories, sodium, and grams of sugar as the fast food joints. Government has no role in trying to draw a line on something like this. Let the marketplace decide. The City of Chicago is not going to agree to this; if they did, they would reopen the foie-gras nationwide-laughingstock days all over again.

  9. David Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:34 pm

    CORRECTION… Sorry, should have said:
    …many fast food restaurant chains such as McDonald’s do have A FEW relatively healthy dishes…

  10. 007 Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:37 pm

    Here’s an idea, why doesn’t the group work on opening a chain of restaurants that serves heart-healty foods? If their way is really better, they’ll put the unhealty places out of business.

    It’s called “capitalism”.

  11. 007 Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    LOL, 3 minutes between mine and David’s posts. Great minds think alike.

  12. Gregory Oct. 29, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    This is really stupid. Just downright stupid.

    Look instead of Daley listening to a bunch of zealots physicans, why dosen’t Daley use his political clout to stop ignorants such as Ricky Hendon who is considering running for Mayor of Chicago? We all understand that Ricky Hendon wants to bring a gambling casino to Chicago. We as Chicagoans should be worried about a corrupt gambling casino comming to Chicago instead of some innocent fast food restaurant.

    This is really silly.

  13. Terrence J. Benshoof Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm

    Wow! That’s pretty scary stuff from the tofu and sprouts set based in Washingtoon. In fact, I’m so upset I think I’ll go get a double quarter- pounder with cheese, large fries, and bring it home to wash it all down with a couple beers!

  14. Elginbrian Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Another nanny-state liberal idea. How about we all behave like adults and take responsibility for ourselves based on whatever knowledge we have or gather. Of course, these guys come to Chicago, where the mayor and alderman will try to control your life, like foie gras for instance. I’m sure it will get a loud and hyperbolic hearing in front of the City Council so we can all get a good laugh out of it.

  15. Jay Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I know. Instead of mandating anything, let the government tax FAT and sugar like they do tobacco and alcohol. The higher the fat and/or sugar content, the higher the tax. That will make fresh fruits and vegetables cheaper by comparison. No more cheap Big Macs, Whoppers, etc. The problem fixes itself – or at least the government is subsidized for the health problems a high fat/high sugar diet can cause.

  16. Larry Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    ACTUALLY GOD told me eating too much and doing too little physical activity causes obesity.

    He did not use those words exactly, he put them in my head under the “Common Sense” heading.

  17. RomanB Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Someone out there actually is finding meat in Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald’s?

  18. JohnS Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:35 pm

    If this was April, I’d consider this an April Fools Joke…..Can these people really be serious? Our Mayor has more important things to do than to listen to a fringe group that wants government to limit others (from using their legal rights)!

  19. ww Oct. 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm

    Survival of the fittest. Everyone’s gotta go sometime. It’s their choice.

  20. Bob Oct. 29, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    We eat way too much meat! But we shouldn’t only target Chicago, what about the suburbs? – they are full of ugly fast food strip malls and people driving everywhere destroying the environment and getting fat. Suburbs are far more of an issue with unhealthy food and little exercise.

  21. jack (me) Oct. 29, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    I’m sure that this is just as valid a use of the zoning power as the attempt to force a union on the Congress Hotel–NOT.

  22. TomD Oct. 29, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Nothing worse than a bunch of arrogant, crackpot, liberal do-gooders deciding what’s best for me.

  23. CIRAN Oct. 29, 2010 at 6:46 pm


  24. SSandersMA Oct. 29, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    Shame on them for promoting stereotypes of obese people. In the first place, there are countless number of obese people who do not eat fast food. To say obesity is just caused by poor food choices is like saying poverty is caused by lazy folk. Way way too simplistic. If they care about obesity so much, they should also stop Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers and the like because those kind of programs make our bodies more efficient at making fat in the long run, although they work in the short run.
    And why are we so concerned with longevity anyway? We don’t have the ability to maintain social security, there is age discrimination in hiring, people have lost their investments. What is so terrible about dying of a heart attack in the late 60s or early 70s instead of a retirement of poverty? If people did not know the risks that would be one thing. But there is no place one can escape the food nags. Let people make their own choices. This group needs to mind its own business!

  25. Robert Grillo Oct. 29, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    PCRM is a credible, science-based organization that has done much to address diet and disease. The numerous comments attacking PCRM show how little these commenters know about what their mission is or their accomplishments. These defensive Glenn Beck style attacks reveal ignorance not only about PCRM but worse about the issues connecting chronic disease, diet, and nutrition. Chicago and other municipalities can and should take an active role in building awareness about food choices to those who would not have access to this information. It could save their life! One day, future generations will view the fast food giants as our living generations view the tobacco industry. They will have finally seen past the misinformation and realized that fast food is as bad for us as smoking is. It’s just a matter of education and exposure to the facts which unfortunately is sorely lacking today in these discussions.

  26. mike h Oct. 29, 2010 at 8:15 pm

    well better knockdown those hot dog joints, pizza places, and that #1 killer, portillio’s beef. (oh, dont forget the rib joints, too).
    Tofu and turkey burgers for all! Blah…..

  27. Never Mind Oct. 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm

    This would be good for Chicago because there are so many obese people here. They obviously can’t make smart decisions when it comes to eating garbage and drinking garbage.

  28. dd Oct. 30, 2010 at 9:07 a.m.

    I like 007’s comment. Let the “democratic” solution of capitalism work. However, if you have noticed, anytime a splinter group wants to impress it’s unpopular agenda on the general population there is an attempt to mandate the result they want. Why are they unwilling to do this, the vote of popular opinion of action has already vetoed their idea or proposal. Food is only one of the areas of this approach!!