September 14, 2010; Source: Wall Street Journal | A nonprofit health advocacy group plans to turn up the heat on McDonald’s Corp. in a new television commercial that blames the fast-food maker for heart disease. Set to begin airing in Washington, D.C. this week, the commercial, produced by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), shows a dead man lying in the morgue with a hamburger in his hand, while a women weeps over him.

As the commercial ends, golden arches appear over the dead man’s feet, and a voice over says, “High cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart attacks. Tonight, make it vegetarian.” PCRM says it chose Washington for the new spot because heart-disease kills more than 1,500 people in the city each year. After adjusting for age, Washington is only second in the country, after Mississippi, for the number of such deaths. The group also says that compared with eight other similar-sized cities, the district has more McDonald’s, Burger King, and KFC restaurants per square mile.

As part of its campaign, PCRM will urge Washington Mayor Adrian Fenty to ban the construction of new fast-food restaurants in the city. Fast-food proponents feel that the ad unfairly holds the industry’s feet to the fire. Calling the commercial “irresponsible,” Scott DeFife, an executive vice president at the National Restaurant Association, adds that it “attempts to scare consumers into making choices and promotes a limited view of good nutrition.” Sounds like a food fight in the making.—Bruce Trachtenberg