There are a lot of ridiculous proposals made in the name of fighting the “obesity epidemic,” such as fat taxes, portion controls, and dubious lawsuits. For the sake of balance, of course, it’s only fair to mention all the ridiculous things for which academics have attempted to blame obesity. This week New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata summarized several of these absurdities. The accompanying cartoon gives the piece a most fitting title: “How Obese People Are Responsible For Everything Bad.”
Our favorite conclusion recounted by Kolata? “[F]at people cause global warming.” But there’s more:
At an annual meeting of the Obesity Society, one talk correlated obesity with deaths in car accidents, and another correlated obesity with suicides. [Political scientist Dr. Eric] Oliver, who attended, said no one in the crowd of at least 200 questioned whether the correlations were really cause and effect. “The funny thing was that everyone took it seriously,” he said.
Dr. Katherine Flegal, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researcher whose scientific work cast into serious doubt the “400,000 obesity deaths a year” figure, also spoke to Kolata about the scientific hazards of “being quick to link cause and effect. ‘Yes, obesity is to blame for all the evils of modern life, except somehow, weirdly, it is not killing people enough,’ [Flegal] said. ‘In fact that’s why there are all these fat people around. They just won’t die.‘”
One political scientist summarized the mindset of the obesity scaremongers:
The message in the blame-obesity approach, said James Marone, a political science professor at Brown University, is that it is so important to persuade fat people to lose weight that common sense disappears.
“Anything we can say to persuade you, we will say,” Dr. Marone added.