Dr. Jason Newsom fired for posting a sign warning of health risks of donuts? Read about the Florida doctor doughnuts controversy, see photos, video and find out how and why his efforts to foster healthy eating got him fired.
Dr. Jason Newsom is a former Army doctor who served in Iraq. For the last few years, the 38-year-old doctor had been in charge of the Bay County Health Department in Panama City, Florida. It was a $140,000 year job which involved educating and informing the public on health issues.
All well and fine, but the doctor chose to address the issue of obesity by posting a series of messages on the electronic sign outside his office, reminding people of the consequences of unhealthy food choices.
“Sweet Tea Liquid Sugar.”
“Hamburger Spare Tire.”
“French Fries Thunder Thighs.”
Reportedly, he named the fast food giant KFC by name in a sign warning against fried chicken with no consequences. However, when he name checked another fast food giant, Dunkin Donuts, it was a different story altogether. The company’s slogan, “America Runs on Dunkin’, became:
“America Dies on Dunkin’”
Previously, he had run another sign and “Dunkin’ Donuts Death” as well as one not naming the company, “Doughnuts Diabetes.”
This is what started the doctor doughnuts controversy. The county commissioner Mike Thomas, owner of a doughnut shop and two lawyers, Bo Rivard and Michael Duncan, owners of a Dunkin’ Donuts on Panama City Beach took action against Dr. Jason Newsom because he had named the company by name on the signs.
Although he resigned from the Bay County Health Department on May 8, 2009, in an interview with the Panama City News Herald, Dr. Jason Newsom clearly states he was fired and that the offer to resign was a courtesy extended to him.
“Let’s get this straight: I was fired. This talk about resignation, that was all politeness,” Newsom said. “If your boss ever puts two pieces of paper in front of you, and one is a resignation letter, and one is a termination letter, and you’ve got two minutes to decide, you were fired.”
Prior to his departure from the Bay City Health Commission, he had held the job for slightly more than two years, and had banned doughnuts and similar pastries from meetings, and removed sodas and junk food from vending machines, replacing it with healthier foods. This in addition to the more public challenges he had made, via the signs outside his office. In the interview, he stated his concerns about widespread obesity in the country as his motivation.
“Sixty-six percent of Americans are overweight or obese. There’s no way you can go out and talk about obesity without the majority of people feeling uncomfortable, because you’re talking about them,” he said.
Presently, according to the Herald, the doctor is now a senior physician at the Northwest Florida Reception Center, which is a correctional facility in Chipley, Florida.
No doubt the ouster of Dr. Jason Newsom will be debated for some time. Readers, let us know: what do you think about the Florida doctor doughnuts controversy?
Here is a photo of Dr. Jason Newsom. See video below.