Overblown rhetoric about the “obesity epidemic” has itself reached epidemic proportions. Trial lawyers increasingly see dollar signs where the rest of us see dinner. Activists and bureaucrats are proposing radical “solutions” like zoning restrictions on restaurants and convenience stores, as well as extra taxes and warning labels on certain foods.

Relying on peer-reviewed publications and esteemed health experts, this booklet documents the extent to which many researchers and academics are actively questioning the obesity hype. Have you heard that obesity kills 400,000 Americans a year? That it costs $117 billion? That 65 percent of Americans are overweight or obese? It turns out that these statistics are wildly exaggerated, and that most of the increased risks from excess weight actually result from physical inactivity.

The $40 billion weight loss industry is also fueling obesity hysteria. As the former editor-in-chief of The New England Journal of Medicine points out: “Physicians have been extensively involved with the pharmaceutical industry, especially opinion leaders and those in the high ranks of academia. The involvement was in many instances quite deep. It involved consulting, service on speaker’s bureaus, and service on advisory boards. And at the same time some of these financially conflicted individuals were producing obesity materials, lectures, and obesity articles in major journals.”

The pharmaceutical industry in particular is putting its enormous resources behind research that grossly exaggerates the health risks and costs of being overweight. And of course, once they convince us of the problem, drug manufacturers will peddle the cure. “In short,” says Paul Ernsberger, a Professor of Medicine, Pharmacology and Neuroscience at Case Western Reserve University, “economic factors encourage a systematic exaggeration of the health risks of obesity.”

» Download full report .pdf