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FILE - In this June 24, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama and Russia FILE - In this June 24, 2010 file photo, President Barack Obama and Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev, left, eat burgers at Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)  

Group to WH: No more pics with junk food

An animal rights group that includes some doctors, concerned with the weight of the nation, is taking its fight to the White House.

The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a non-profit group long affiliated with People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, is asking the White House to file an “executive order banning staged photo opportunities that show the president, the first family, the vice president, and members of the president’s cabinet eating unhealthy foods—including processed meats—that can cause cancer and obesity,” it said in a press release.

“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?” PCRM nutrition education director Susan Levin said in the release.

The petition says photo-ops “routinely conflict with health messages and often present in a favorable light the foods that have been shown to contribute most strongly to cancer, obesity, and premature mortality.”

PCRM frequently emerges with public complaints about non-vegetarian food in schools, hospitals, airports and spots arenas. The group recently made a splash with billboards claiming hot dogs cause — in its words — “butt cancer.”

Political candidates and rubber-chicken dinners have always gone hand-in-hand. So Americans have been snapping photos of politicians eating since the first camera hit the Sears catalog. The Ames, Iowa straw poll was a breeding ground for presidential shutterburg, as images surfaced of Republican candidates eating everything from hot dogs to fried butter.

Even Joe Biden was recently spotted on the campaign trail passing out ice cream cones at a Dairy Queen in Ohio.

The Obama administration has not shied away from junk food, despite the first lady’s focus on healthy eating. But Michelle Obama has been criticized, too, for her restaurant choices as she continues her national campaign against childhood obesity. An online petition on Change.org asks her to “stop eating unhealthy foods publicly.” Many signers say her meal choices are “hypocritical.”

PCRM says photographs of public officials eating foods it considers unhealthy affects public opinion more than the USDA’s dietary guidelines.

Critics, including the non-profit Center for Consumer Freedom, say PCRM’s ties to PETA include more than $850,000 in donations between 1988 and 2000. PCRM president Dr. Neal Barnard is a past president of the PETA Foundation, which runs the in-your-face anti-meat group’s business operations.

PCRM counters that the Center for Consumer Freedom is anti-consumer, and points out that it is funded in part by restaurants.

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