Religious California Community Sees McDonald's As A Fatty Dagger In The Town's Healthy Heart

Many of Loma Linda, Calif.’s citizens don’t drink and don’t smoke, so what do they do when McDonald’s comes to town? They get up in arms and start complaining about the Golden Arches breaching their haven of health.

The L.A. Times reports on the little town’s history of healthfulness, which includes no liquor stores, a legally smoke-free environment for almost 30 years and only two fast food franchises in the city limits. Much of the town’s attitude comes from its close intertwinement with the Seventh-day Adventist faith and the church’s medical center’s influence.

“McDonald’s does not fit the Loma Linda brand of health and wellness,” said Dr. Wayne Dysinger, head of preventive medicine at the medical school. “Compare it to smoking laws: There’s no question that smoking is harmful to people’s health. Exposing people to fast food also is harmful to their health.”

The city has often been touted as one of the healthiest places to live, with its vegetarian, non-fancy dress-wearing citizens holding bragging rights as a National Geographic “blue zone,” which means it’s got one of the greatest numbers of people living healthy lives into their 90s and 100s.

Even with a Carl’s Jr. and Del Taco already set up, it seems many Loma Lindans want nothing to do with Mickey D’s. A group of preventative health professionals in the Loma Linda Coalition are now backing a ballot measure to ensure that fast-food restaurants will never outnumber healthful eating options and reminding City Council members, who approved the McDonald’s 3-2, that they are elected officials.

Mayor Rhodes Rigsby, a lifelong vegetarian and physician, is stressed out about all the attention the ruckus is getting, saying it’s not about healthy people versus big greedy businesses, it’s about the role of government.

“My perspective as a conservative libertarian is that government’s role should be minimalized,” he tells the LAT. “We should keep people from harming one another, but government doesn’t have a strong need to keep people from harming themselves.”

McDonald’s proposal divides healthy Loma Linda [L.A.Times]