Have you seen the new TV commercial for Jack-in-the-Box set in a busy police precinct? A confident, all-business police detective barks into the phone:
“Tell the Mayor to shove it.”
He slams down the phone, walks purposely across the room and asks outloud:
“Hey rookie, did you get lunch?”
A guy in a black police uniform with a large ping-pong ball smiley face head says:
“Yes I did. I went to the convenient Jack in the Box and got each of us the Jumbo Deal, comprised of a Jumbo Jack (burger), two classic tacos, fries and a cold beverage for only $3.99.”
The price might be right, but the meal’s nutrition information says it’s loaded with saturated fat and sodium. Based on my calculations, the Jumbo Deal is not a sound regular meal choice. With its 1,221 calories, a person eating it gets about:
83% of an adult’s recommended dose of salt,
93% of the recommended dose of saturated fat, and
135% of the recommended dose of sodium.
The salt and fat overload, plus the commercial’s setting in a police precinct caught my attention.
A number of studies suggest that law enforcement officers are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (CVD). A study by Sandra Ramey, PhD, RN and colleagues at the University of Iowa College of Nursing, for example, examined the prevalence of CVD among retired members of the Milwaukee Police Department. They compared the police officers’ data to individuals in the general Wisconsin population of similar age and income. The researchers reported statistically significant differences among the two groups on hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, overweight and obesity, and CVD. In all of these categories, the retired police officers had the less favorable ratings.
Obviously, the risk of CVD in police officers is multifactorial. The burgers, tacos and fries are only a small part of the problem. Law enforcement personnel have little control over how their work is organized, including the hierarchical military structure of most police agencies, and the imbalance between job demands and decisional latitude. A state of the art review published in 2009 in the American Journal of Hypertension examined a variety of occupational factors among emergency responders and CVD such as shift work and sleep deprivation/disruption, post-traumatic stress disorder, and noise exposure.
For cops on the beat, I can imagine it’s not easy to eat well unless they plan their meals in advance and pack their your own food as much as possible. When Jack-in-the-Box is the only option, how about sharing the Jumbo Deal with your partner? One gets the burger, one gets the tacos, you split the fries and shave off about half the meal’s sodium and saturated fat. Then, stop at a convenience store or grocery and pick up two large apples. Eating it will give you 20% of your daily dietary fiber, and a healthy dose of soluble fiber which can help reduce your cholesterol level.