Florida Doctor Doughnuts Controversy: Dr. Jason Newsom Fired for ‘America Dies on Dunkin’ Sign

August 14, 2009

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.


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5 Responses to “Florida Doctor Doughnuts Controversy: Dr. Jason Newsom Fired for ‘America Dies on Dunkin’ Sign”

  1. 1
    billyjoe Says:

    This guy’s face and look are extremely TV friendly. If he can tone down his criticism of fast food or get a good writer to help him rework his speaking style, he can have a huge career.

  2. 2
    Bob Reagan Says:

    Dr. Newsom is not saying anything but what a lot of your own doctors have been saying to us. Watch your weight. The good doctor is just getting right to the point. We all know how bad McDonald’s food is for us, well it’s not a little know fact that donuts is not on the healthy diet plan When it comes to “money to be made” vs “health”,”Money being made” will get what they want.

  3. 3
    Marie Says:

    I agree with Jason all the way, America needs to wake up and get fit! Stop eating everything they think they want, start realizing the negative impact that being overweight or obese is doing to themselves. Shortening their lifespan, costing millions in health care, teaching their children unhealthy habits.

  4. 4
    Carin Says:

    We need more people like Dr. Newsom, willing to stand up for what they believe. He cared enough to voice his opinion on the junk that people are eating. They are not eating real food! When people figure out that they need to eat food grown from the earth, then the obesity rates will go down, the cancer rates will go down, the heart disease rates will go down.

  5. 5
    Nina Says:

    I wish my doctor gave me cold hard facts years ago. Here I am almost 40 and still struggling with my weight. I’ve only recently taken a long hard look at my health. I’m loosing weight and feeling better but still have a ways to go…..THIS IS THE PERSON WHO SHOULD BE OUR SURGEON GENERAL!!!!!!