Doctor criticised for comparing cigarettes to doughnuts in response to Krispy Kreme vaccination promo

A vaccination card could earn the bearer one free treat a day until the end of 2021 – but not everyone’s happy
Graig Graziosi

A doctor with a prominent social media presence sparked a backlash after suggesting a doughnut giveaway for people who get vaccinated would worsen the American obesity epidemic.

Dr Eugene Gu, formerly of the Stanford University School of Medicine and a campaigner against smoking, criticised a campaign launched by Krispy Kreme Doughnuts offering a free donut every day until the end of 2021 to anyone who receives a Covid-19 vaccination.


“Krispy Kreme offering free doughnuts for getting vaccinated is like Marlboro offering free cigarettes for getting a flu shot. We have an obesity epidemic in this country that is killing us. Corporations that ride the COVID-19 vaccine as a marketing ploy for junk food is terrible,”

Dr Gu said healthy eating should be the focus of messaging, pointing out that heart disease was still the number one cause of death in the US.


“Get vaccinated and eat healthy is the message we need amplified in the media. Not get vaccinated and get a free doughnut that promotes diabetes, obesity, and so many other health issues that is destroying our country. Heart disease is still the leading cause of death in America,” he said.

His message was met with criticism online, with people suggesting a single doughnut to reward people for receiving a vaccine would cause little harm.


“I’m typically on board with most [of what] you post, but it’s ONE donut. Not a dozen donuts. Not free donuts for life. A healthy lifestyle does include the occasional indulgence. You missed the mark with this one, imo,” one user wrote on Twitter.

The offer allows those with vaccination cards to get one free original glazed doughnut every day for the rest of the year.

The cost of one glazed doughnut at Krispy Kreme is 99 cents.

Kathryn Watson, a reporter at CBS News, pointed out that Krispy Kreme offering a free doughnut a day does not mean everyone needs to eat a free doughnut every day.

“I see people on this website actually getting mad at Krispy Kreme for offering free donuts, like people have no agency and responsibility in their own decisions. Twitter is so dumb,” she wrote.


Steve Silberman, author of the New York Times bestseller NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity said the handwringing was indicative of fatphobia.

“It’s fun watching all the folks who think trashing Krispy Kreme gives them some kind of virtuous cover to express their completely typical loathing of fat people. #obesity,” he wrote.

But Dr Gu was not the only one critical of the move.

“And if you don’t qualify yet, don’t worry. Krispy Kreme still offers affordable preexisting conditions,” The Daily Show account tweeted.

Bridget Phetasy, a writer, shared similar sentiments to those of Dr Gu.

“Obesity is one of the primary factors that affect your response to COVID and these f****** are giving away a donut a day if you’re vaccinated. Everything is so dumb,” she wrote.

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