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Should Fast Food Labels Feature Health Warnings Like Cigarettes?

Is a burger as dangerous as tobacco?


Health food advocate Aaron Shultz firmly believes that fast food labels should carry health warnings like cigarette packages. The Daily Mail notes that Schultz — who founded the Game Changer movement "to get rid of unhealthy food ads in sports" — posted an image of a Big Mac box featuring two overweight kids and the phrase "Big Macs Make Big Children" to the Game Changer Facebook page earlier this month to "fire up debate." A version of the photo has already gained nearly 60,000 likes.

Schultz tells the Daily Mail, "Just like a cigarette packet demonstrates the causes of cigarette smoking and its damages, this image demonstrates what the fast food product can do to the human body." He adds, "'We're heading down the wrong path at a rapid rate. Certainly food labeling is a key step to people making informed decisions on what they're eating."

Schultz ultimately wants cigarette-style warning labels on fast food packages, but he's hoping to see an ingredient list on fast food packaging in the near future so that consumers know where the food has come from and if it "has been treated with chemicals or growth hormones."

While Schultz believes that warning labels will help reduce obesity rates — especially in children — Perth Now writes that the labels probably will not work. The "extreme labeling smacks of judgement and assumption" and is a form of "fat shaming." Plus, smoking is never safe, but "junk food can arguably be consumed safely as a ‘sometimes' food." So should people have to face such graphic thoughts each time they bite into burger?

Even with the pushback, many others are as concerned about fast food as Schultz. While doctors have not come out in favor of cigarette warning-style labeling, a group called the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is calling for a ban on fast food in hospitals. They say that these fast food dishes end up causing the diseases that lead to a consumer being hospitalized and should be banned from hospitals, like cigarettes.

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