Last month when all hope for adult decision-making in New York seemed lost, a New York state judge threw out the city’s proposed regulation limiting the size of sodas in restaurants and similar establishments. Now, the New England Journal of Medicine is trying to pick up the pieces of a regulation for which it gifted precious intellectual real estate to a methodologically shoddy letter that purported to show the rule would be effective in public health’s misguided war on obesity.
One author, from the Boston University School of Public Health, acknowledged some of the procedural and political problems that culminated with Judge Milton Tingling’s ruling and the peevish mayor’s appeal. Bloomberg didn’t go through the City Council and his regulation was so riddled with political loopholes that Jon Stewart of The Daily Show could easily mock the boneheaded ban by saying, “It combines the draconian government overreach people love with the probable lack of results they expect.”
However, another author from Columbia University demanded that the journal’s readership shoulder arms in Bloomberg’s continued crusade. In typical activist fashion, the ridiculous analogies flow like liquid into a Big Gulp. Apparently, soft drinks are now to be considered “industrial pollution,” as if drinking a perfectly safe, refreshing beverage is going to give people a third arm.
This sort of anti-choice thinking and hyperbolic argument is typical for the Journal. Much to the chagrin of activists who predicted in its pages that fatness would lower the average lifespan, that hasn’t happened, and we continue to live longer and better than ever. The Journal also published research preposterously claiming that obesity could be passed on second-hand, as if food decisions were germs and people helpless to do anything about “catching” an obesity “contagion.”
A cartoonist (whose work we republish here) once referred to a “New England Journal of Panic-Inducing Gobbledygook.” With each passing scare from the Journal’s pages, the line between reality and satire gets ever more blurry.