Just because a butterfly flaps its wings in Brazil doesn’t mean that television ads make kids fat. But sadly, that’s the kind of reasoning yesterday’s headline-grabbing report from the federal government’s Institute of Medicine (IOM) employed to blame food marketing for childhood obesity.

The IOM’s work was billed as the most comprehensive report on obesity and food marketing to children, yet it admits “that current evidence is not sufficient to arrive at any finding about a causal relationship from television advertising to [obesity] among children and youth.” This gaping hole in logic didn’t stop the IOM from issuing a two-year ultimatum to the food and restaurant industries to change their marketing practices “voluntarily” — or face federal legislation doing it for them.

Calling for policy changes without demonstrating a causal link is what you’d expect to find in a junior high science fair project, not a 500-page report from the National Academy of Sciences. Unfortunately, this is common practice among the nation’s leading food cops and anti-obesity scaremongers.

There is another side to this debate. Today the Center for Consumer Freedom released a new book — An Epidemic of Obesity Myths — which debunks false fat scares and exposes how the $46 billion weight loss industry has invested millions of dollars into research hyping the problem. Their logic is simple: Every American scared of a few extra pounds is a potential new consumer for their get-thin-quick weight loss plans and pills. And if they achieve their ultimate goal of getting obesity classified as a disease, Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance providers could be stuck footing an awfully large bill for a multitude of diet pills already in the pipeline.

It should be no surprise that the panel of obesity experts which revised the government’s standard for measuring overweight — and in doing so made 35 million Americans officially overweight, overnight — was comprised largely of weight loss industry-funded researchers. (Click here to see a state-by-state breakdown of the reclassification.) As a result of their grand redefinition, 65 percent of Americans are now said to be overweight.

An Epidemic of Obesity Myths also addresses many other common misconceptions about our waistlines, including these fallacies:

Overweight and Obesity Kill 400,000 Americans Annually
Obesity Will Shorten Life Expectancy
Obesity Costs Americans $117 Billion Annually
Obesity Has Made Diabetes an Epidemic
Soda Causes Childhood Obesity

An Epidemic of Obesity Myths is available online at our new website: www.ObesityMyths.com. There you can read it chapter by chapter, view an executive summary or download a pdf of the entire book. If you’d like a hard copy of the book, it is available for purchase as well.