Companies that provide life and health insurance don’t exactly have the best reputation. (Think expanding premiums.) And neither do fast food chains. (Think expanding waistlines.) So it shouldn’t come as a big surprise that insurance providers are some of the biggest investors in fast-food franchises. How else are they going to cover the cost of your quintuple bypass surgery? By exercising their options in Burger King, of course. A new report in the American Journal of Public Health says that insurers such as Prudential Financial, Northwest Mutual and Massachusetts Mutual own $1.9 billion worth of stock in fast-food companies like McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and Jack in the Box. The author of the study, Dr. Wesley Boyd of Harvard Medical School, finds these investments to be morally repugnant. Why? Because the insurance industry is supposed to be concerned about people’s health and well-being, but apparently is more interested in making a quick buck. Tell us something we don’t already know.
Food fight. Are U.S. military bases in Afghanistan the newest front in the war on junk food? Fast food franchises including Burger King, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, TGI Friday’s are no longer welcome at bases in the country. Apparently, the move is not a matter of healthy eating, but rather of getting soldiers to focus on the mission at hand. “This is a war zone — not an amusement park,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Hall. He explained that closing these restaurants would free up valuable resources like water, electricity and storage space, as well as reduce convoy traffic in the country. Sounds plausible. But others speculate that in the battle for hearts and minds in Afghanistan, it doesn’t help to have these obvious symbols of “Western imperialism” dotting the country.
Get freaky. Burger King has gone crazy, and leading mental health advocates are taking deep offense. A new BK commercial depicts the cartoonish King sprinting through a building, crashing through a plate-glass window, and handing a bystander a Steakhouse XT burger before being tackled by orderlies from the loony bin. “The King’s gone crazy… offering so much beef for $3.99.” says the ad. Seems kind of funny to us. But maybe we’re nuts for thinking that. “I was stunned. Absolutely stunned and appalled,” says Michael Fitzpatrick, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. To him, the ad is “blatantly offensive” and only serves to further stigmatize mental illness. But to the Washington Post, the real issue is not Burger King’s insensitivity. “The real problem with the Burger King ads is that the King is a giant freak of nature with a grotesque plastic head,” says the paper. Now, that’s way out of line.