By Elise Viebeck - 05/09/12 12:11 PM EDT
A healthcare advocacy group run by physicians is preparing to file a petition calling on President Obama to stop eating hamburgers, hot dogs and other unhealthy foods before cameras.
"As role model to millions of Americans, the president has a responsibility to watch what he eats in public," said Susan Levin, nutrition education director with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).
He famously treated staff to lunch at Good Stuff Eatery on Capitol Hill in August 2011.
A year before that, he and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev grabbed food at Ray's Hell Burger in Arlington, Va.
And in March, during a visit to Ohio with British Prime Minister David Cameron, he ate hot dogs while watching college basketball.
Levin said in a statement that processed meats like hot dogs "kill more Americans every year than tobacco does, and they cost taxpayers billions of dollars in healthcare."
She cited increasing rates of obesity in the United States. A study out this week projects that 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030.
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"The White House would never set up a photo op showing the president buying cigarettes, so why is it OK to show him eating a hot dog?" she added.
Obama, an ex-smoker, kicked the habit in 2010, the first lady has said.
Despite Obama's taste for unhealthy foods, some media outlets have reported that the president appears to have lost weight since beginning his term.
PCRM's petition asks the White House to issue an executive order barring the president, the first family, the vice president and all members of the Obama Cabinet from eating foods in public "that can cause cancer and obesity."
A release noted that eating processed meats was shown in a recent study to increase the risk of premature death.
The group will file the petition on Thursday.