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'The CEO of Sweetgreen Hates Fat People': Salad Chain CEO Slammed For Comments on Obesity

Sweetgreen CEO Jonathan Neman is under fire for a since-deleted LinkedIn post suggesting that the underlying cause of the pandemic is obesity.


Apparently the key to fixing the Covid-19 pandemic is to … eat more salads?

Michael Kovac | Getty Images

This is what many disgruntled customers think Jonathan Neman, CEO of cult-favorite salad chain Sweetgreen, was inferring in a LinkedIn post that made its rounds on Wednesday.

"78% of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people," the businessman wrote in the since-deleted post. "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?"

He then went on to suggest that we use the "pandemic as a catalyst for creating a healthier future" and proposed a government that "incentivized health" by taxing foods that are processed and high in sugar.

Neman then further dug himself into a hole by stating that "Covid is here to stay for the foreseeable future. We cannot run away from it and no vaccine nor mask will save us."

He finished by claiming that "repairing our food system could save us $2 Trillion a year in direct costs ($1T in Healthcare, $1T in Environmental Impact). OUR TIME IS NOW."

The post was deleted early Thursday morning.

Naturally, the masses were not happy.

He faced backlash on the LinkedIn post in addition to others citing the post and subsequent article by VICE on Twitter.

Many hit back at Neman, claiming that not only was he fat-shaming Americans but that Sweetgreen salads might not be healthful or low in calories, depending on which ingredient combinations customers use.

"Virtually everyone needs better access to fresher, more nutritionally dense food, more money to buy it, more leisure time to prepare it, better knowledge of what they're eating and how to cook it," one Twitter user pointed out. "Let me know when Sweetgreen pivots to address literally any of those things."

According to the CDC, being overweight, obese or severely obese can make you more likely to fall "severely ill from Covid-19," and being obese or severely obese could nearly triple the risk of being hospitalized from Covid-19 complications.

The report also states that over 900,000 adults were hospitalized due to Covid-19 between the onset of the pandemic through mid-November 2020, with an estimated 30.2% of these hospitalizations (roughly 271,800) "attributed to obesity."

However, it's noted that both Hispanic and non-Hispanic Black adult populations have a higher prevalence of obesity within their communities and are "more likely to suffer worse outcomes from Covid-19," per CDC data, which calls into question accessibility to healthful, viable nutrition options for underserved communities.

Sweetgreen's mission statement says that the company is "leading a movement to reimagine fast food for a new era" with "core values" that "aim to empower customers, team members and partners to be a positive force on the food system."

Sweetgreen did not immediately respond to Entrepreneur's request for comment or clarification on Neman's post.

The salad chain privately filed for an IPO in July, with earlier estimations in 2021 valuing it at around $1.8 billion.

The New York Times reported that the company's total revenue in 2019 topped $300 million

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