Sweetgreen CEO scrubs LinkedIn post linking COVID-19 to obesity after backlash

Jonathan Neman argued Americans need 'more health mandates'

The CEO of salad chain Sweetgreen has deleted a controversial post he made pointing to obesity as the "root cause" of COVID-19 and pushing for the U.S. to implement "more health mandates" regarding food.

Jonathan Neman, whose billion-dollar company has fast-casual restaurants in 12 states, began in his rant Tuesday that "78% of hospitalizations due to COVID are Obese and Overweight people," asking, "Is there an underlying problem that perhaps we have not given enough attention to?" and "Is there another way to think about how we tackle 'healthcare' by addressing the root cause?"

A Sweetgreen restaurant in Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown. (iStock)


Neman told his followers that "COVID is here to stay" at least for the foreseeable future, and "we cannot run away from it and no vaccine nor mask will save us." He noted that he is vaccinated and supports others getting the shot.

"We have been quick to put in place Mask and Vaccine Mandates but zero conversation on HEALTH MANDATES," the CEO went on to write. "All the while we have printed unlimited money to soften the blow the shutdowns have caused to our country."

He said more needs to be done, suggesting, "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 incentivized health?"

The CEO concluded, "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."


Sweetgreen, whose salads can hit the $15 range, did not immediately respond to FOX Business' request for comment. But the reason for Neman deleting his post appears to be because the responses across social media were overwhelmingly critical.

One person tweeted with sarcasm, "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." A writer from The Atlantic quipped, "'The government should coerce people to buy salad' is a hell of a convenient belief for a Salad Millionaire."

"Yikes. This is incredibly fat-phobic," one respondent and self-proclaimed "Sweetgreen fan for years" commented according to the New York Post. The outlet reported that before deleting his post Neman conceded that his critics had "some good points" and explained that his post "was meant to be a thought-starter on how we could think of health differently (instead of just sickness) and attack the root causes that are killing us beyond the one in the news every day (COVID)."