In the past few years, Americans have been force-fed a huge helping of myths about our so-called “obesity epidemic” [“Obesity drops to No. 7 killer,” Newsday.com, April 19]. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention insisted that obesity kills 400,000 people a year and is even worse than the Black Death.

The food police and trial lawyers seized on these pronouncements to justify their crusades for “fat taxes” and frivolous obesity lawsuits. Now the CDC is rumbling, bumbling, stumbling toward an explanation for a new study that says the real death toll of obesity is actually about 25,000 – 15 times lower than its original estimate.

The new study is written by CDC experts and uses the most recent data collected by the CDC itself. Bottom line: Obesity is nowhere near the problem you were told it was. That’s bad news for the food cops and trial lawyers. But for those of us who enjoy a full menu of food choices and don’t like being hectored about what to eat, things are looking up.

Dan Mindus