Reason.com compiled a thorough list of TIME magazine’s worst-ever cover stories. Of course, the No. 1 spot went to our favorite old chestnut: the obesity epidemic.
“Overcoming Obesity in America,” the cover story for the June 7, 2004 issue, was stuffed to the gills with ominous information about how expanding waistlines will inevitably lead to the extinction of the human race.
The editors intoned:
"Campaigns against smoking and drunk driving have raised the national consciousness about these public-health issues dramatically. There’s no reason to think an anti-obesity campaign can’t do so as well—as long as everyone involved acknowledges that the problem is real and that solving it will be as hard as anything we’ve ever done."
Yet as Reason points out, Americans set new life-expectancy records every year. Medical advances over the past 25 years have drastically reduced rates of death from heart disease, cancer, and stroke. Scores of doctors have emphasized that the connection between obesity and dire health problems has been grossly exaggerated.
Maybe it’s time the media stopped its egregious fear-mongering about so-called plagues facing the nation and started giving a balanced look at the actual science.