[extropy-chat] FWD (SK) U.S. Ad Blitz Dismisses Obesity Threat as 'Hype'

Terry W. Colvin fortean1 at mindspring.com
Tue Apr 26 04:52:14 UTC 2005


   U.S. Ad Blitz Dismisses Obesity Threat as 'Hype'

By Nichola GroomMon Apr 25, 5:36 PM ET

A group backed by the U.S. food and restaurant industries on Monday
launched an advertising campaign aimed at dismissing as hype concerns
about the large number of obese Americans.

The full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers were inspired by new
government data questioning government assertions that obesity causes
nearly as many deaths as smoking, according to the Center for Consumer
Freedom, which paid for the ads.

The group, based in Washington, does not disclose names of its donors,
though spokesman Mike Burita said casual dining restaurant chains "are
predominant sources of funding for us."

A spokesman for Darden Restaurants Inc., the nation's largest casual
dining company and owner of the Red Lobster and Olive Garden chains,
could not say whether Darden was among contributors to the group.

Applebee's International Inc., another major casual dining chain, also
could not say whether it contributes to the group, a spokeswoman said.

The group spent about $600,000 on the ads, which appeared on Monday in
the New York Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, USA
Today and the Chicago Tribune. Ads are also to run in Newsweek magazine
and on billboards in the Washington-area metro system.

The campaign, Burita said, was sparked by new statistics from the
National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS), a unit of the Center for
Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), that contradict previous findings
from the CDC that obesity was catching up to heart disease as a major
cause of death in the United States.

The CDC has said that smoking kills 435,000 Americans a year and that
obesity kills close to 400,000 annually. But the NCHS report issued last
week cuts that number by 75 percent.

Since it was published last year, the CDC's 400,000 figure has been
cited in media reports regarding the impact of obesity on everything
from healthcare costs to diets.

At the same time, U.S. food and restaurant companies have faced
increased criticism from health and nutrition advocates who blame foods
high in fat and sugar for contributing to what critics have called a
nationwide obesity epidemic.

The Center for Consumer Freedom hopes the ads will capture the attention
of lawmakers and the CDC.

"We're putting pressure on the leadership of the CDC, who has still not
endorsed this new figure," Burita said.

CDC spokesman Tom Skinner, who said he has seen the ad, said the CDC was
not wrong a year ago.

"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," Skinner said.

He said it was more important to look at obesity-associated illness and
disability. "It is a well-known fact that obesity is also contributing
to other well-known leading causes of death including cancer and
diabetes," Skinner said.

Burita said his group wants some perspective. "Obesity is certainly a
genuine problem. But when genuine problems become political issues they
tend to become exaggerated, as this has," he said. (Additional reporting
by Maggie Fox in Washington)



"Only a zit on the wart on the heinie of progress." Copyright 1992, 
Frank Rice

Terry W. Colvin, Sierra Vista, Arizona (USA) < fortean1 at mindspring.com >
      Alternate: < fortean1 at msn.com >
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