Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Canadian Headlines, Yesterday’s News

Today dozens of Canadian newspapers ran stories on the latest gloomy obesity report. Headlines like "Obesity dooms Canadian children to shorter lifespan" and "Generation XL facing shorter life than their parents" frantically warned readers of the apocalyptic findings by the House of Commons Committee on Health. But despite the doomsday headlines, this report is not landmark, or even original. The "obesity will lead to lower life expectancy" claim is the same tired line that assorted scaremongers have been trotting out since it appeared in a 2005 New England Journal of Medicine study. Though frequently used, it’s dubious at best.Because they used intuition rather than hard data to arrive at their conclusions, Dr. S. Jay Olshansky and his co-authors quickly recanted their findings, admitting to Science magazine that their "life expectancy forecasts might be inaccurate." Nevertheless, food activists continue to spout this claim, bringing much of today’s news down to the realism standards of radio reports of alien invasion.Armed with erroneous statistics and testimony from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (known for finding something wrong with practically everything) and the UK’s Food Standards Agency (known for pushing portion-size controls and other draconian diet measures), the Canadian Committee on Health compiled a list of 13 recommendations with 45 bullet-pointed proposals for federal oversight on obesity issues like marketing regulations and food labeling.This obesity hysteria may be confined to the Canadian media today, but — as Orson Welles learned the hard way — panic quickly spreads.

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