When last we left international obesity supervillain Philip James, London's Daily Mail newspaper reported that he was "at the centre of a sleaze row last night after it was revealed he has been paid undisclosed consultancy fees by makers of weight-loss drugs." But James and his pharmaceutical industry-funded obesity associations aren't done hyping the problem of obesity around the world — in fact, they're becoming a big business, and a big threat to the basic concept of personal responsibility. James and his groups have helped reclassify 35 million Americans from "normal" weight to "overweight." They are currently trying to redefine millions of Asians as "overweight." And they continue to scare people the world over with reckless obesity panic. James recently published an article in the medical journal The Lancet. Its errors and gross exaggerations include using an already disproven figure of obesity-related mortality. Big Business
As we've explained before, James' International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) and its International Association for the Study of Obesity (IASO) affiliates are generously funded by the weight-loss industry, which sells more of its products when people are panicked about obesity. According to the Daily Mail, IOTF has received "75 per cent of its £626,000 annual income [roughly US$1.1 million] from drug companies, including international pharmaceutical giants F. Hoffman-La Roche and Abbott Laboratories." And we've detailed the heavy pharmaceutical industry funding of NAASO, America's IASO affiliate. Now IASO reports that it is "going into business" and has created a wholly-owned company focused on making money from its conventions and "ploughing profits back into the Association." Influencing the EU
In its most recent newsletter, IASO bragged about IOTF's influence over the new European Union "Platform on Diet, Physical Activity and Health." The group reported:
The IOTF paper became the centrepiece of the EU platform launch and was widely reported around the world. It was featured prominently on the EU Platform website, and attracted so much interest it was reported to have received the highest number of downloads Brussels has ever experienced.
The author of that briefing paper was IOTF's policy director Neville Rigby. His bite-sized respect for personal responsibility has led him to call for portion control on candy bars. And he coauthored an article with James in which they argue: "This 'personal responsibility' approach has … clearly failed." Those in the EU who thought their union was meant to make trade easier ought to remember that Rigby and James advocated "health impact assessments on trade arrangements" and the use of "powers so far reserved largely for acute food safety issues to restrict trade" on foods that nutrition scolds don't like. In addition to influencing the EU, James has helped craft language for Britain's Food Standards Agency, and his IOTF helped create a draft World Health Organization report recommending extra taxes on some foods. Global Action Alliance
Now IOTF will run a "Global Action Alliance" on obesity. This organization has the backing of influential groups such as the International Diabetes Federation, the International Pediatric Association, and the World Heart Federation. But IOTF will provide "the core support" for the new Alliance. "A small group of experts is responsible for developing policy recommendations," their literature notes. It's pretty clear who will be there providing financial incentive to that "small group."