Happy New Year! ‘Tis the season for bowl games and get-thin-quick weight loss schemes. In that light, we weren’t surprised to see weight loss guru Richard Simmons — of Sweatin’ to the Oldies and Deal-a-Meal fame — this morning on the Today Show. Unfortunately, we also weren’t surprised that Simmons (who makes his living convincing people they need to lose weight) claimed “400,000 Americans died last year of obesity-related diseases.” As we’ve explained many times before, that’s based on a thoroughly discredited study, and the real number of deaths associated to excess weight is closer to one-fifteenth the statistic Simmons’ suggests.

Last year The Baltimore Sun called the 400,000 deaths figure the “Chicken Little Scare of 2004.” It also came in number one on Steve Milloy’s top 10 list of junk science stories of 2005. And now a new study by a researcher from the Congressional Budget Office published in the American Journal of Public Health further bolsters Milloy’s point. It reads in part:

[T]his study and others suggest that the individuals who are overweight and mildly obese face no or very little increased mortality risk relative to normal weight individuals.

For more, visit ObesityMyths.com.