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Doctor Fired For ‘Doughnuts = Death’

From an understanding Associated Press:

Fla. doc fired over ‘doughnuts equal death’ sign

By Melissa Nelson, Associated Press Writer Thu Aug 13

PENSACOLA, Fla. – Dr. Jason Newsom railed against burgers, french fries, fried chicken and sweet tea in his campaign to promote better eating in a part of the country known as the Redneck Riviera. He might still be leading the charge if he had only left the doughnuts alone.

A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside:

"Sweet Tea (equals) Liquid Sugar."

"Hamburger (equals) Spare Tire."

"French Fries (equals) Thunder Thighs."

He also called out KFC by name to make people think twice about fried chicken.

Then he parodied "America Runs on Dunkin’," the doughnut chain’s slogan, with: "America Dies on Dunkin’."

Some power players in the Gulf Coast tourist town decided they had had their fill.

A county commissioner who owns a doughnut shop and two lawyers who own a new Dunkin’ Donuts on Panama City Beach turned against him, along with some of his own employees, Newsom says. After the lawyers threatened to sue, his bosses at the Florida Health Department made him remove the anti-fried dough rants and eventually forced him to resign, he says.

"I picked on doughnuts because those things are ubiquitous in this county. Everywhere I went, there were two dozen doughnuts on the back table. At church, there were always doughnuts on the back table at Sunday school. It is social expectation thing," says Newsom, a lean 6-foot, 167-pounder in a county where 39 percent of all adults were overweight in 2007 and one in four was considered obese.

Newsom was hired by the state Health Department to direct the county agency. His $140,000-a-year salary is paid jointly by the state and the county. His job primarily involves educating the public about health issues — swine flu, AIDS and the like — but he also decided to address the dangers of glazed, sprinkled and jelly-filled treats.

He angered staff members by barring doughnuts from department meetings and announcing he would throw the fat-laden sweets away if he saw them in the break room. He also banned candy bars in the vending machines, putting in peanuts instead.

In May, lawyers Bo Rivard and Michael Duncan, co-owners of a new Dunkin’ Donuts, asked Newsom to take down the "America Dies on Dunkin’" message. Newsom already had run other anti-doughnut warnings, including "Doughnuts (equals) Diabetes," and "Dunkin’ Donuts (equals) Death."

The businessmen had the backing of County Commissioner Mike Thomas, who owns a diner and a doughnut shop. Thomas called for Newsom’s ouster, saying the doctor shouldn’t have named businesses on the message board.

"I think he was somewhat of a zealot," Thomas says. "I don’t have a problem with him pushing an agenda, it’s the way he did it. People borrowed money to go into business and they are being attacked by the government."

A short time after Newsom’s meeting with Rivard and Duncan, Newsom says, his bosses at the state Health Department told him that his leadership wasn’t wanted and that he could be fired or resign. He chose to resign May 8 but has reapplied for the job.

"I have never been known for my subtlety. I don’t have a knack for it. I speak the truth to people and just assume that that my data and purpose are so real and true that everyone will see the value of what I’m doing," says Newsom, who now works at a prison, doing exams of inmates.

Rivard and Duncan did not return numerous calls to their offices.

"Dunkin’ Donuts is pleased that the signs have been removed," Andrew Mastrangelo, a spokesman for Canton, Mass.-based Dunkin’ Donuts said in an e-mail.

The Florida Health Department has refused to talk about Newsom since he is considered a job applicant. "We will be happy to talk to you after the position has been filled," department spokeswoman Susan Smith said in an e-mail.

Newsom is hoping to get his job back so that he can resume his campaign against overeating.

"My method was a little provocative and controversial," he says, "but there wasn’t a person in Bay County who wasn’t talking about health and healthy eating."

How provincial are the folks on the ‘Redneck Riviera.’

Never mind that the good doctor was engaging in what the lawyers call ‘tortious interference’ by officially attacking a legitimate business engage in selling a legal product. In this case, Dunkin Donuts’ doughnuts.

Of course cigarettes are legal too, we’re told.

Alas, it’s always the pioneers who take the arrows.

It almost sounds like Dr. Newsom is angling for a position with the Obama administration. Too bad the job of Food (Nazi) Czar is already taken.

Still, if he doesn’t get his old job back, there must be room for him on Mr. Emanuel’s White House medical team which will oversee how we are to live our lives.

He angered staff members by barring doughnuts from department meetings and announcing he would throw the fat-laden sweets away if he saw them in the break room. He also banned candy bars in the vending machines, putting in peanuts instead.

How confusing.

We were laboring under the impression that peanuts were the most dangerous food substance on the planet.

We must have been misinformed.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, August 14th, 2009. Comments are currently closed.

22 Responses to “Doctor Fired For ‘Doughnuts = Death’”

  1. curvyred says:

    I understand those foods are indeed bad for your health – but who is he to decide what other’s should eat?

    Typical elitist who thinks he knows better than I.

  2. Georgfelis says:

    Ah, the way things should be.

    First they came for our Doughnuts…..
    And we grabbed them by the scruff of the neck and threw them out into the street.

  3. wardmama4 says:

    While I do believe it is my right to eat a Cinnabon anytime I damn well please – he is an MD and he is doing what these freaks are implying all healthcare professionals should be doing – attacking the obesity causing ‘food’ groups. And I put it in quotes as it is a slim definition of food.

    This is a concerted effort – but it is not by the people implied in the story – this is an effort by the AMA et al to keep ‘food’ meaning any ole crappola that is over processed, overcooked, over fat and over sugared for the primary desire to keep America as fat and as unhealthy as possible.

    Look at anyone who has written a ‘remove the processed foods’ type cook book/parenting/diet book – and the majority are driven from their profession (if they hold an MD) or at the very least are labeled as crazy.

    And I have to cringe at a ‘health dept’ that serves doughnuts at it’s meetings – isn’t that as hypocritical as it gets?!?

  4. Yarddog1 says:

    Why can’t these liberal dillweeds just LEAVE ME ALONE! If they want to eat seaweed, so be it. But constantly attempting to dictate what others do just AIN’T THEIR BUSINESS.

  5. proreason says:

    “We were laboring under the impression that peanuts were the most dangerous food substance on the planet. ”

    Like the breath we exhale, all foods gradually kill us. It’s a crisis. We only have four months to save the planet.

    Unless all-knowing science changes its mind again tomorrow.

  6. 12 Gauge Rage says:

    A doctor working in the ‘Redneck Riviera’ trying to dictate a healthier lifestyle? Being raised in the deep south I can’t of any self-respecting Redneck that didn’t like his burgers, fried chicken, or glazed doughnuts. As we say down here: ‘If it can’t be deep fried, a Southerner won’t eat it.’ Besides, as with all things taken in moderation, treats, fried food, and alcohol aren’t so bad. Move this crazy nut doctor out to Marin County, California where he can be with his own kind. But then again if he’s among his own kind he’d be miserable because there’d be no one to rant against.

  7. GetBackJack says:

    What an effing punk mother etc etc. What a jerk. What a finger shaking nanny.

    http://www.nolacuisine.com/2006/01/15/beignet-recipe/

    In honor of this (richard) tomorrow morning I’m going to have for breakfast 3 eggs, half a rasher of bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits with sausage gravy and finish with deep fried beignets. And real fracking cream in my coffee.

    You”d have thought serving in the military would have taught him common sense, manners and No-Buttinskyism … but noooo.

    (boiling over)

  8. GetBackJack says:

    One other thing …. Julia Child LOVED butter. te EVERYTHING.

    And lived to 92. Her husband, whom she fed all her French cooking lived to 94.

    This knucklehead has stuffed his lower orifice with so much nanny state knowledge that Truth escapes him completely.

  9. To quote Julia Child: “A gub’mint big enough to take away your donut, is big enough to employ a fascist at the health dept.”

    Or maybe it was Richard Simmons….

  10. TwilightZoned says:

    The good doctor surely must have been in the running for office of Surgeon General. Well, I’m sure the abundant bureaucracy national health care will entail, he won’t be unemployed long.

  11. VMAN says:

    I don’t care if he’s General freaking MacArthur FIRE HIS BUTT!!! Stay out of my groceries. I have had enough government. I don’t believe in anarchy but we would all be better off if we fired 3/4 of government officials and workers at the local, state and federal level. We should also burn half the laws on the books. There was a song that had a line in it something like “Ain’t nobodies business but my own” If I’m not hurting someone else or ripping them off them LEAVE ME ALONE!!!!

  12. CIV says:

    No donuts? He’s just lost the support of the police.

    [Just kidding, all you cops out there. :-) ]

  13. MeTooThen says:

    Um, no.

    “A 38-year-old former Army doctor who served in Iraq, Newsom returned home to Panama City a few years ago to run the Bay County Health Department and launched a one-man war on obesity by posting sardonic warnings on an electronic sign outside”

    He was doing his job. Whether in NYC, or Fresno, CA or Liberty, KS, Chicago, Las Vegas, or Casper, WY, uncontrolled diabetes mellitus is a killer: coronary artery disease, stroke, renal failure, blindness, loss of limb and eventually, life.

    The man was doing his job. I have been to all of the above named places to lecture, meet with physicians and nurses, and I hear the same thing, their patients simply do not follow their diabetic education or medication plans, and do not change their behavior.

    It seems a former Army doctor and Iraq War vet would be the right kind of person, with the right kind of discipline and training (recall, that he must have been an Army Officer) to lead a community in its fight against unhealthy living.

    A food Nazi? You must be f’ing joking. The guy was a community leader, advocate for the benefit of those who lived there, and he got fired.

    It doesn’t suck to be Dr. Jason Newsom. In fact, I would love to have another former Army Officer and doctor on my team (we have several former Navy and Army docs in our practice). It sucks to be Panama City and Bay County.

  14. gipper says:

    “The man was doing his job. I have been to all of the above named places to lecture, meet with physicians and nurses, and I hear the same thing, their patients simply do not follow their diabetic education or medication plans, and do not change their behavior.”

    Uh, you just shot down your own argument. So, Dr. Newsom is ineffectual–just spinning his wheels, eh? I am an Army dietitian and I know first-hand that many patients are non-compliant. What purpose does Dr. Newsom serve when people don’t heed his well-intentioned advice? I absolutely detest telling people what they can and cannot eat. If I tell them to eat foods to slow their disease, I only SUGGEST. I refuse to be part of the “food police”, which Dr. Newsom seems to subscribe to.

  15. Confucius says:

    Oh no!

    The Florida medical board website does not list a “Jason Newsom” as having a license to practice medicine: http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/IRM00PRAES/PRASLIST.ASP#theBottom.

    Is this more medical astroturfing?

  16. MeTooThen says:

    Gipper,

    I didn’t say the good people of Panama City and Bay County weren’t following his advice. In fact, the article only states that he seems to have angered the donut merchants. In fact, for all we know, he was doing a good job of changing people’s behavior and the culture of the County Health Department.

    My point is that the problem with most people’s diabetic health is their non-compliance. This does not mean all people, but certainly many or most. It doesn’t matter where you go in the country, big or small city, high tech or rural, or which time zone, the problems of diabetic control are the same. It seems to me that Dr. Newsom may have been annoying, but who knows how bad the health of the county is?

    I have been to communities were it is common for the average Hgb A1C to be over 9, certainly in the high 8’s is common.

    And I’m sorry that you detest telling people what they can or cannot eat. So be it. Some people need that degree of structure in their medical counseling in order to get their disease under control. And yes, of course, my patients know that if they continue to drink sugared soda, eat pizza, fries, don’t exercise, smoke, that they won’t get better, in fact they know they will get worse. I get that. Hell, did the merchants in Panama City really think they would go out of business? Unlikely as based by the story and the comments here.

    Dr. Newsom’s job is to run the health department. That means health promotion, and that means leading by example and yes, no donuts in the health department. Our clinic (over 100 doctors) struggles with issues like vending machines, and cookies, etc. No one likes to be a scold. On the other hand, if the good people of Bay County want to their health department to be hyperlipidemic, hypertensive, diabetic, that’s their business.

    If they don’t like Dr. Newsom’s methods, they have every right to fire him. Great. Good luck with that. I would gladly have a tough, no-nonsense, leader and educator when it comes to health and behavioral modification than to give in to donut merchants with thin skins.

  17. CIV says:

    I visited Google out in CA last year. They have snacks available all over the work place. They make the healthier ones free and put the less healthy ones in vending machines. So you can vote for junk food with your own dollars. That seems like a reasonable compromise for a company that wants to promote healthier eating without forcing anyone to eat broccoli.

  18. Liberals Demise says:

    Well!!
    That does it!!
    They aren’t happy unless they have their finger in my doughnut hole now!!
    What’s next? A finger up my nose or …………

    • jobeth says:

      Well…Obalmy did say he was going to get rid of the “donut holes”…LOL
      Don’t think he was talking about that one though…:-D


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