The Checkup: Doctors Want Obama to Lay Off Burgers on the Campaign Trail

To set a good example, should the President only eat healthy food in public?

• If you can dream it up, there’s probably a petition about it (and if there’s not, you can start one in three easy steps!). Case in point: A group of doctors and activists banded together recently to circulate a petition urging President Obama to cut out campaign stops and photo ops where he might be photographed eating unhealthy food, like burgers, fries and hot dogs. Their rationale? That showing the President eating junk food sends a bad message to the public. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, the group behind the petition, argues that the President is a role model, even when it comes to healthy eating. “The White House would never set up a photo op showing the president buying cigarettes, so why is it okay to show him eating a hot dog?” says PCRM dietician Susan Levin. The group is worried that images showing Obama eating junk food sends mixed signals about health and nutrition and provides de facto endorsement for the fast food establishments he dines in. It makes sense in theory, I guess, but I think the most people are smart enough to read between the lines and understand that a burger, even if the president eats it, is not a healthy choice. Besides, there’s something to be said for someone who’s in good shape like Obama enjoying a burger and fries every now and then: those foods are a treat, and ones that can be enjoyed once in a while when you balance them with healthy choices otherwise. It’s actually a smart approach to a healthy diet—everything in moderation, no deprivation, etc. How’s that for a role model?

• Does your kid watch a lot of TV? New research found that TV watching influences a child’s eating choices around the clock, whether the tube’s on or off. The New York Times reports that a child’s TV habits correlate to unhealthy eating across the board, so what he learns on TV he brings to the dinner table, school cafeteria, snack time and beyond.

• Add this to your grocery shopping list: a nutritionist. One study found that in-store nutrition education leads to healthier choices at the supermarket.