Sweetgreen CEO sparks criticism with comments linking Covid cases to obesity and unhealthy eating

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

The CEO of salad chain Sweetgreen is facing accusations of fatphobia after he claimed in a since-deleted LinkedIn post that Covid is linked to obesity and that “no vaccine nor mask will save us”.

On Tuesday, Jonathan Neman addressed what he referred to as a “root cause” of the pandemic on LinkedIn, where he wrote: “78 per cent of hospitalisations due to Covid are obese and overweight people. Is there an underlying problem that perhaps we have not given enough attention to? Is there another way to think about how we tackle ‘healthcare’ by addressing the root cause?”

According to CNBC, the statistic Neman referenced appeared to be from an article published in March by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In the lengthy post, the co-founder of the popular salad chain then claimed that Covid is “here to stay for the foreseeable future” and that “no vaccine nor mask will save us” from the virus, before noting that he personally has been vaccinated against Covid and supports others getting vaccinated.

“Our best bet is to learn how to best live with it and focus on overall health versus preventing infection,” he wrote.

According to Neman, who acknowledged the country has been “quick to put in place” mask and vaccine mandates, what is needed are government “health mandates” that would make unhealthy foods taxed or illegal..

“What if we focused on the ROOT CAUSE and used this pandemic as a catalyst for creating a healthier future??” he continued. “We clearly have no problem with government overreach on how we live our lives all in the name of ‘health,’ however we are creating more problems than we are solving.

“What if we made the food that is making us sick illegal? What if we taxed processed food and refined sugar to pay for the impact of the pandemic? What if we incentivised health?”

According to Business Insider, Neman deleted his post after Vice reported on it, but not before he began facing criticism from some of his LinkedIn followers, with one accusing the CEO’s statement of being “incredibly fatphobic”.

The backlash has since made its way to Twitter, where people have continued to criticise Neman for his comments.

“Was such a fan of @sweetgreen but I’ll spend my $17 on a salad elsewhere. Fatphobic idiotic harmful rhetoric. Skinny doesn’t = healthy. Shame on #sweetgreen,” one person tweeted.

Another said: “Dear Sweetgreen CEO: I heard you think masks and vaccines won’t save us but salads will. I agree. They worked really well on measles and polio.”

Someone else added: “How interesting that his solution to the pandemic is for us to buy the product he’s selling.”

Prior to deleting his post, Neman, whose company sells salads beginning at $9.95, acknowledged that one of his critics made “some good points” before adding: “We have work to do to make healthy food more accessible and affordable.”

The Independent has contacted Sweetgreen for comment.

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