Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Media Blitz on CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) rabid obesity agenda is coming under fire from far and wide. Much of the media firestorm came after the Center for Consumer Freedom ran full-page ads in the nation’s top newspapers questioning the CDC’s role in hyping the supposed “obesity epidemic.”

From the CBS Evening News and NBC’s Today Show, to the Drudge Report and Reuters, CCF is taking the CDC to task for its handling of the bogus study that overestimated the number of deaths per year from overweight and obesity fifteen-fold. We told Reuters: “We’re putting pressure on the leadership of the CDC, who has still not endorsed this new figure.

On last night’s CBS Evening News, Jim Axelrod said, “The CDC gave [the Center for Consumer Freedom] the hammer to hit them with, when it revised the number of obesity-caused deaths downward — way down.” And appearing on this morning’s NBC Today Show, we explained: “They’ve terrified the American public about their love handles, saying you’re going to die because of your beer gut. It wasn’t true.”

In addition to CCF, numerous opinion makers have taken the CDC to task for its handling of the now-discredited estimate of obesity-related deaths. New York Times columnist John Tierney argues:

For those of us lacking six-pack abs, this week’s report that the overweight live longer is the greatest medical news in history. The authors of this study deserve a Nobel, not just for medicine, but for peace, too. They have taken away the favorite cudgel of the scolds who used the “obesity epidemic” as an excuse to attack the flabby. The supposedly deadly consequences of fat provided the scientific rationale for the last politically correct form of prejudice.

The fatophobes are fighting on, disputing the new study and arguing that it still shows the fatal dangers of being seriously obese. But they have lost the scientific high ground … One study will not change people’s minds, because the crusade against fat was never just about science.

The activists fighting the evil junk-food industry always had a streak of neo-puritanism in them. They cited scientific research to justify their battle against fatty foods, but then campaigned hysterically against Olestra, the calorie-free fat substitute. Despite the research showing Olestra to be generally safe, the prospect of Americans enjoying fat-free junk food was just too sinful to allow. So was the prospect of calorie-free colas. When soft-drink companies replaced sugar with aspartame, the food police again ignored the research and kept imagining dangers.

Denver Post columnist David Harsanyi asks:

Why is that when someone utters the words “public health,” we’re expected to flip the brain switch to the off position? Recently, we were warned by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that obesity was going to be the new No. 1 killer in America. Politicians sprinted to come up with pioneering ways to legislate against the dreaded Twinkie. Now, a study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association debunks the whole report.

Commenting on CDC Director Julie Gerberding’s refusal to accept the findings of the agency’s new study, Rocky Mountain News columnist Paul Campos writes:

Apparently Gerberding, who at this time last year was at the forefront of those proclaiming that fatness was about to overtake smoking as the nation’s leading cause of preventable death, isn’t going to allow a little (actually an overwhelming amount of) adverse evidence to interfere with her pet agenda.

PBS’s Tucker Carlson notes that the CDC is failing to take science seriously:

Obesity is an epidemic in this country. At least four hundred thousand Americans die of it every year. Soon, being fat will overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. That’s what the Centers for Disease Control told us just last year. Politicians, celebrities and other public scolds immediately set about lecturing the rest of us about our chronic, repulsive weight problems. Well, guess what? It was all a lie … But don’t expect the government to tell you any of this. Although the CDC concedes its original numbers were completely bogus — inflated by a factor of 15 — it does not plan to correct them in its public awareness campaigns. But wait. Shouldn’t scientists confine themselves to the facts? Sure. But the campaign against obesity was never just about science…

Finally, writing on Tech Central Station, health policy columnist John Luik opines:

A few years ago, The New York Times ran a cartoon that showed two Washington DC policy experts having a conversation. “In Washington the search for truth is a creative process. First, you create a premise. Next you create a statistic to back it up. Then you create an audience by repeating it over and over again, until the media pick it up. That’s when you know that you’ve done it.” “Done what?” “Created a fact!”

Just add Atlanta — the home of the Centers for Disease Control — to Washington and you have a pretty good idea of how obesity science and policy are made these days. Despite the fact that the CDC has been caught out creating “statistics” to back up the “fact” of an obesity epidemic, it appears to be neither embarrassed nor remorseful …

When the CDC’s numbers said that obesity was overtaking tobacco as the leading cause of death, allegedly killing 400,000 Americans a year, it was all right to use that 400,000 figure non-stop to scare us into losing weight. But when the real number turns out to be just short of 26,000 then the CDC is so worried about “uncertainty” that they aren’t going to use the figure. Obviously, Dr. Gerberding did not get her doctorate in logic.

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