Group Says Consumers Fed Diet of Obesity Hype

Discussion
Apr 26, 2005
George Anderson

By George Anderson


The Center for Consumer Freedom, a group representing restaurants and food manufacturers, has
launched an advertising campaign accusing the government, medical authorities, trial lawyers and the “food police” of distorting the health risks associated with being overweight.


Full-page ads ran in yesterday’s New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA Today and the Chicago Tribune.


Mike Burita, a spokesperson for the Center for Consumer Freedom, said the ads were being run to put pressure on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to admit previous research on the health impact of obesity was flawed and that a new study showing that the problem is much smaller needs to be publicly embraced.


According to an April 19 article posted on the group’s Web site, “One would be forgiven for thinking CDC stands for Center for Damage Control. Just a year after its widely-publicized and exceedingly controversial announcement that excess weight kills 400,000 Americans annually, the agency is rumbling, bumbling, stumbling toward an explanation for a new study that says the real figure is just 25,000.”


Spokesperson Tom Skinner, told Reuters the CDC has good reasons for not disavowing its earlier estimate. “All the science around computing mortality associated with obesity is still evolving. If you look at the papers and try to compare them, you really can’t do that.”


“It is a well-known fact that obesity is also contributing to other well-known leading causes of death including cancer and diabetes,” he added.


Mr. Burita and others contend that by not taking a stronger position, the CDC is, in effect, encouraging frivolous lawsuits against restaurants and food manufacturers.


Moderator’s Comment: What is your reaction to the Center for Consumer Freedom’s ads alleging the obesity issue is being hyped?


Time may or may not show the Center for Consumer Freedom to be right on the health impact of being overweight.


The group, however, does itself no press or public perception favors by not listing those companies that contribute to its agenda. It makes it appear as
though it is hiding something. If the facts support the Center for Consumer Freedom, agenda or not, its arguments will win out — eventually.

George Anderson – Moderator

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.

Join the Discussion!

12 Comments on "Group Says Consumers Fed Diet of Obesity Hype"


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Mark Burr
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
It’s interesting how common foes make strange bed partners and how despised means are justified to accomplish the desired end. If that makes any sense at all! I find it fascinating that the tobacco war seemingly now past has so quickly and intensely shifted to obesity. Those who seem to favor choice and personal freedoms on so many issues use quite different tactics when their ire turns to the issue of the day. Conversely, those who favor personal responsibility seek to protect rather than encourage what they favor as the resolution. Quite interesting. Seemingly the ‘thought police’ on both sides have taken each other’s tactics and turned them around as if to think they are ‘okay’ as long it’s the right cause. The argument seems light on principle on both sides. Retailers are missing a great opportunity on this whole issue. The right message it seems is yet to be found. I think ‘hype’ may be the wrong term. I think the term lies within a method of understanding is missing to where society shifts… Read more »
Ben Ball
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

The general sense so far seems to be that the retailers’ grasp at information that may blunt the trial lawyers’ spear a bit is very understandable. I agree.

As to the question of the wisdom of this particular PR effort — who turned these guys on to Tom Delay’s PR firm?

David Divine
Guest
David Divine
15 years 10 months ago

Americans continue to eat those foods that the USDA and HHS promote based upon research information provided by the food industry. As a result, Americans continue to become more overweight and suffer from more diseases than ever. Until the dietary guidelines become more in tune with what our physical bodies require in the way of good nutrition, nothing will change the obesity and sicknesses afflicting our population.

Art Williams
Guest
Art Williams
15 years 10 months ago

Common sense should tell us that we need to do more to educate or scare ourselves into taking the obesity problem more seriously. Poor diets and lack of exercise are a very big problem in this country and show few signs of improving. The number of children suffering from diabetes and other health problems related to obesity should be a wake up call to us, but it seems to fall on deaf ears.

Anything such as this ad campaign that tries to minimize the concern over this problem is doing everyone a major disservice. I don’t favor or like seeing restaurants or food manufacturers being sued over this issue, I think it is everyone’s personal responsibility to determine what they eat and why.

MIchael Basch
Guest
MIchael Basch
15 years 10 months ago

Have we gotten so dependent on science that we ignore reality?

Of course we’re fat as a nation — number one or two in the world. And we’re getting fatter every year. Obesity is an epidemic. We spend more money per capita on health care yet don’t rank in the top 20 industrial nations in health. We don’t need science to prove the effects of obesity. Just observe those around us.

Maybe we need to go the tobacco route so our food providers get the point. If we have to prove the harm of obesity in a court of law, I’m sure the lawyers will figure out how to do it. I certainly hope we wake up as a culture before that alternative.

David Lotterer
Guest
David Lotterer
15 years 10 months ago

It seems obvious that both studies were conducted with a preconceived agenda in mind, and we should assume that the answer is somewhere in between.

Leave it to the government to do a multi-million dollar study in order to prove what should be intuitively obvious.

Americans eat too much of the wrong things and exercise too little. I find it completely amazing that anyone has decided that this is worthy of debate.

I guess I can see their point. We shouldn’t take action on any problem until people are actually dying in mass numbers.

Larry Elias
Guest
Larry Elias
15 years 10 months ago

Freedom of choice–I’m for it. People should be able to stuff their faces to their peril.

Having said that, consider the fact that the increase in obesity just happens to correspond with the increase in food consumed away from home. Meanwhile grocers have more hoops to jump through. First it was nutritional labeling, now it’s Country of Origin Labeling. If we want to get serious about obesity, how about requiring restuarants to have nutritional labels next to every menu item? I can see it now, “customer has heart attack in restuarant–not from what he ate, but from the shock of seeing what was in what he ate.”

Herb Sorensen
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
I hate watching society lurching around on issues like this. There is absolutely no question in my mind that there is a point at which weight is excessive and injurious to health. There is also no question that many Americans have long since passed that point. I also think it is a proper role of government to assist with the education of the populace. But I am opposed to that education taking on a coercive dimension. Did someone mention trial lawyers? I say this in the context of the decades long stupidity that has surrounded the cholesterol issue. It is a fact that elevated levels of cholesterol in the blood are associated with heart disease, et al. It is also a fact that the amount of cholesterol you eat has almost nothing to do with the amount in your blood. It is the amount and type of fat (and lack of fiber) in the diet that contribute to elevated serum cholesterol. Peanut butter (zero cholesterol, high fat) is far worse for your serum cholesterol than… Read more »
Ryan Mathews
Guest
15 years 10 months ago

Let’s see…hmmm…the forces of trans fats, high fructose corn syrup and portions on steroids think there isn’t much science behind the CDC’s anti-obesity campaign. What a shock!! Of course, this helps explain why Adult Onset Diabetes is now just referred to as Type II since so many children get it. Diet is only part of the problem [obviously lack of exercise is another major contributing factor to the obesity issue] but it is a critical element in the wellness equation. You can — and should — argue that the industry shouldn’t be responsible for how people eat but, in this case, methinks the industries doth protest too much.

Karen Kingsley
Guest
Karen Kingsley
15 years 10 months ago

Didn’t the tobacco companies try this same ploy?

On some level, I applaud their proactive approach to avoiding litigation. On another, deeper level, I believe they are doing a huge disservice to the American public. I can accept that it is not the direct responsibility of their constituency that this country is too fat; however, those retailers who are working to contribute to consumers’ ability to eat more responsibly should be applauded and thrive.

Deborah Gonzales
Guest
Deborah Gonzales
15 years 10 months ago

Just take 5 minutes to ‘people-watch’ in a mall, in a restaurant, in a corporation, etc… I do not believe it takes a rocket scientist to determine that this nation is in a obesity death spiral!

Bernice Hurst
Guest
15 years 10 months ago
The biggest problem with the whole obesity epidemic debate is that both sides are telling us what is good and bad for us. Sadly, some people don’t know without being told but far more people do know and just choose to live their lives the way they want, resisting at every opportunity the advice thrust upon them more and more aggressively every day. There is, now, way too much advice. It is frequently confusing (sometimes deliberately) and contradictory to the point where it is impossible to find a middle ground and follow a path of moderation. As for studies, I am on record as saying that I admire those who manage to procure the funds to research and prove the obvious over and over again. It is basically pretty easy for anybody with enough sponsorship money to prove any old thing. If the hype – and I now think there is far too much of it – could just die down for a little while, people might take the time and space to think clearly… Read more »
wpDiscuz

Take Our Instant Poll

Which statement do you believe is closest to the truth?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...