It’s not just academic when professors-turned-columnists wage the obesity wars in some of the nation’s largest newspapers. That’s precisely what’s happening as Rocky Mountain News columnist and obesity expert Paul Campos has offered a devastating counterpunch to recent jabs that New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has taken at the Center for Consumer Freedom for daring to stand up to prevailing notions about obesity.
Campos takes Krugman to task for his “remarkably naive analysis of the economic factors driving arguments about weight and health.” He argues that Krugman “ignores the fact that many scholars with no connection to the food industry dispute the claim that increasing weight represents a serious health problem.” Campos goes on to say that groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom “are merely publicizing this dispute rather than, as Krugman would have his readers believe, creating it.”
At the same time, Campos argues that Krugman “makes the curious assumption that while research actually funded by the weight loss industry can be trusted, research merely highlighted” by groups such as the Center for Consumer Freedom cannot. In fact, Campos notes, there are billions at stake for the weight-loss industry:
It should go without saying that the health care and pharmaceutical industries are positioned to reap immense profits from the successful campaign to convince two-thirds of Americans that their current weight constitutes a “disease,” that requires “treatment.”
That very campaign chugged on in a recent story from Washington Post writer David Montgomery titled “Consensus is building that obesity a disease.” Who were the experts cited by the paper and working to build that consensus? Not surprisingly, they are the very industry-funded researchers and spokesmen who inflate fat fears. One is Morgan Downey — head of the pharmaceutical industry-funded American Obesity Association (AOA). Another is Arthur Frank, who runs a weight-loss clinic and is AOA’s treasurer. Then there’s Louis Aronne, an AOA advisor and president of the pharmaceutical industry-funded North American Association for the Study of Obesity.