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The CEO of a Salad Chain is Accused of ‘Fat Phobia’ for (Correctly) Saying Obesity Puts You at Risk of Covid


The CEO of a major healthy foods chain just made that point. And he’s basically being treated like he committed a hate crime. 

MSN – Vaccines and masks won’t save us from the pandemic, Jonathan Neman wrote, but the Sweetgreen CEO has a solution: Outlaw junk food. 

Neman, whose chain of 100-plus restaurants sells salads for $10 to $15 a pop, published a LinkedIn post Tuesday suggesting that obesity is the “root cause” of health problems — including severe coronavirus infections. 

“[Seventy-eight percent] of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people. Is there an underlying problem that perhaps we have not given enough attention to?” he wrote, appearing to cite March Centers for Disease Control and Prevention covid-19 hospitalization data. …

Government officials, he added, should ban or tax unhealthy food.

“We clearly have no problem with government overreach on how we live our lives all in the name of ‘health,’” he wrote. “What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal? What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivized health?” 

After his remarks were published, some commenters knocked Neman for fat-shaming people, Business Insider reported.

“Yikes, this is incredibly fat-phobic,” one person commented on his LinkedIn post. “Have you considered how our healthcare system systematically underserves people who are considered to be in those groups?”

Neman deleted the post after Vice reported on it Wednesday. But before doing so, he acknowledged the commenter had made “some good points,” according to [a] Business Insider article. …

To Neman’s point, CDC researchers have found that about 80 percent of nearly 150,000 patients diagnosed with covid in hospitals last year were either overweight or obese and determined those people tended to have more severe symptoms than their skinnier counterparts.

But CDC scientists came to a different conclusion than Neman. While the researchers also support policies that encourage healthy behaviors, they said their work showed the continued need for vaccination and masking.

Whoopsie. Nice try, Jonathan Neman. But you stepped in it. This was a self-inflicted wound. You learned the hard way there’s no upside to telling Americans we’re eating ourselves to death. And all the accurate data, confirmed science and blatantly obvious common sense in the world is not going to help you convince us you’re right. 

You found out what Michelle Obama did a dozen years ago. That you can try to motivate the public to give up smoking. Wear seat belts. Put their kids in car safety seats and bike helmets. But in this double-stuffed, super-sized, high-fructose, cheese-crusted, extra-crispy, corn-syrupy paradise we’ve created, with “My 600-lb Life” and people in handifat scooters hovering around Disney like the carbon blobs on the spaceship in “WALL-E,” we aren’t going to listen to someone telling us to put down the pork rinds and come quietly. Even if it’s for our own good. Obama tried to upgrade school lunches into something slightly better than processed hog slop, and she got shouted down for being a buttinski. Now you’re being accused of fat shaming the very people you’re trying to keep out of the ICU. Next you’re going to be run off the internet for being in the pocket of Big Salad by people typing with their lips around a can of Pringles.

I’m not big on taxing the things we want to discourage, just because that money never goes to the cause it’s supposed to be earmarked for. Instead it just ends up in the kitty being funneled to politicians’ donors and family members. And “banning” food that’s terrible for us but tastes delicious is simply punishing those of us who can enjoy a bag of chips and some chicken tenders without becoming more sofa than human. 

So to me, the next best solution is to do just what Nemen tried to do. Talk to adults like they’re adults. Give them the facts. Let them know the stakes when it comes to contracting Covid when you’re obese versus when you’re not. And let the fact that you’re way, way, way more likely to get hospitalized when you’re fat than when you’re not incentivize them to get off the bed and onto a treadmill once in a while. But you can see where that gets anyone who makes the mistake of treating bad things like they’re bad and grownups like grownups in this day and age. If even the CDC doesn’t have the balls to make this a major part of their virus response, what chance does a salad mogul have? 



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