Press Release

CDC Admits Obesity Stats Flawed, Other Serious Errors Documented in CCF Report

Washington, DC – A Wall Street Journal bombshell report that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted to serious statistical errors in calculating that obesity kills 400,000 Americans each year is only the tip of the iceberg of gross exaggerations and miscalculations, according to The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF).

A recently released CCF report previously highlighted the pervasive influence of the $40 billion weight loss industry, which puts enormous resources behind research that overstates the costs of being overweight. Pharmaceutical and weight loss companies will profit greatly if they can persuade federal regulators the obesity problem is so severe that they must provide coverage for their diet pills, programs and treatments. Citing a wide array of health, exercise and nutrition experts from Case Western Reserve University, George Washington University, Michigan State University, and the University of Virginia, and the former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine, the CCF report challenges the following myths:

Obesity causes 400,000 deaths each year — This statistic originated from research by Dr. D.B. Allison, who has received funding from at least 20 companies involved in weight loss products. Among many other flaws, Allison’s study used data from as far back as 1948 and failed to account for any of the improvements in medical treatments over the last 50 years.

65% of American adults are overweight or obese — Xavier Pi-Sunyer has received significant funding from the makers of anti-obesity drugs and is currently promoting an anti-obesity drug Acomplia, made by Sanofi. In 1998, he chaired a key National Institutes of Health obesity panel which instantly cast 30 million Americans into the “overweight” category by changing the government’s definition. By this new standard, the “overweight” population now includes stars like Will Smith, Pierce Brosnan, Tom Brady, Kobe Bryant, and President Bush.

Obesity costs the U.S. $117 billion each year — Graham Colditz, co-author of a 1998 study that is the single source for this figure, has received funding from Roche Laboratories, maker of the anti-obesity drug Xenical. His study acknowledged “double-counting of costs” which “would inflate the cost estimate.”

“For months we have been in contact with the CDC inquiring about its flawed research on obesity statistics,” said CCF senior analyst Dan Mindus. “Their admission of a twenty-percent error in overestimating deaths from obesity is a good start. A full investigation into the obesity death tally will reveal multiple flaws that seriously overstate the obesity problem and is leading to knee-jerk policymaking and litigation.”

Founded in 1996, the Center for Consumer Freedom is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization devoted to promoting personal responsibility and protecting consumer choices. For more information, visit


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