The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention could have prevented much of the controversy over obesity if it listened to its own scientists instead of publishing a flawed study exaggerating the problem (“Unappetizing facts,” Editorial, June 8).
Documents from an internal CDC investigation show that its widely publicized study suggesting obesity kills 400,000 people a year and would soon overtake smoking as the leading cause of preventable death used “the wrong formula” and that this mistake “was pointed out to the authors” before the study was published. The documents show that comparing obesity to smoking was “inappropriate” and that the study was “better off being presented as a policy exercise rather than a scientific study.”
Last month the CDC quietly accepted the findings of a recent, scientifically superior study saying obesity is responsible for 112,000 annual deaths. This report also found that being simply overweight carries no increased mortality risk. This isn’t an excuse for gluttony. It is, however, a wake-up call about government agencies using flawed science to hype a problem.