Supersized Con Job

The phoniness surrounding “Super Size Me,” Morgan Spurlock’s fake documentary on fast food, is beginning to reach super size proportions. This week, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) began desperately trying to piggyback the release of Spurlock’s voyeur flick in an attempt to promote its animal rights agenda. PCRM president Neal Barnard, who refers to cheese as “morphine on a cracker” and “dairy crack,” makes a guest appearance in the film to push his food-is-addictive mantra. But just as Spurlock’s creation is nothing more than a sensationalistic reality show masquerading as a documentary (Spurlock’s production company, after all, is aptly named “The Con“), PCRM dons its own disguise. The self-styled medical charity is really just an animal-rights front group (funded generously by PETA) with a vegetarian agenda. Now these two cons are teaming up to frighten Americans into accepting their dietary utopia. A quick overview of PCRM’s handiwork reveals why nobody should be fooled.

PCRM frequently makes the misleading claim that “new studies” in collaboration with Georgetown University show that a vegetarian diet can cure diabetes. However, the research itself is funded and run by PCRM (not Georgetown), and uses a grand total of 59 human subjects. Back in 1999, PCRM tried to pull the same stunt with a slapdash study that examined a mere 11 patients. In each instance, PCRM collaborated with a single Georgetown doctor named Mark Sklar in order to claim credibility. It just so happens that Sklar is also a PCRM member who served on the group’s Program Committee for a conference in 2000. When not busy schlepping for PCRM’s conferences and bogus studies, Sklar pushes vegetarian cookbooks in his spare time — he’s hardly an unbiased researcher.

Barnard’s phony physicians group seems more enamored with frivolous litigation than medication. Earlier this year PCRM ran an advertisement soliciting plaintiffs to sue doctors who prescribed low-carb (and presumably meat-heavy) diets. Given the scourge of frivolous malpractice lawsuits, why would a true “physicians committee” want to encourage litigation against its own profession?

That’s not a real concern for PCRM, which admits that only five percent of its members are doctors. The group has recklessly claimed that “meat consumption is just as dangerous to public health as tobacco use,” and as early as 1999 began demanding tobacco-style federal lawsuits against meat producers and restaurants.

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