Subjects: Behavioral health
A few years back, Jason Newsom, a former Army doctor returned to Panama City to oversee the Bay County Health Department. He was tasked to educate the public about health issues like swine flu and AIDS. He decided to take aim at the obesity problem as well.
He began by barring doughnuts from department meetings and threatening to trash any similar products he happened to find in the break room.
Then he removed candy bars from all vending machines in the building.
Next, he took his cause to the streets. On an electronic billboard outside the department, he ran banners like “Sweet Tea = Liquid Sugar….Hamburger = Spare Tire….French Fries = Thunder Thighs….”
But eventually, Newsome tangled with the wrong hombres.
“America Dies on Dunkin’,” read his latest creation, a slap at Dunkin’ Donuts’ iconic tag, “America Runs on Dunkin’.”
That didn’t sit well with County Commissioner Mike Thomas, who happened to own a doughnut shop in town, and a pair of lawyers who owned a Dunkin’ Donuts down by the beach.
The lawyers (what else?) threatened to sue, and before long the Florida Health Department forced him to resign.
“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,” Newsom, a lean 6-foot, 167-pounder, told the AP.
“I think he was…a zealot,” concluded Thomas. “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.”
“My method was…provocative and controversial,” retorted Newsome. “But there wasn’t a person in Bay County who wasn’t talking about health and healthy eating.”
Newsom now performs physical exams on inmates at the local prison.