WASHINGTON– A report released by the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) titled An Epidemic of Obesity Myths uncovers the complicated web of funding and support between weight loss and pharmaceutical industries and the Obesity Society (formerly the North American Association for the Study of Obesity (NAASO)).

CCF’s Senior Research Analyst J. Justin Wilson commented, “Our report exposes this effort by the $46 billion weight-loss industry to quietly nurture overblown rhetoric in an effort to panic the public about carrying a few extra pounds and force Medicare and HMOs to cover the cost of their drugs and programs. Pharmaceutical and weight-loss companies have invested millions of dollars in institutes, researchers, and studies — all squarely aimed at hyping the ills of being overweight.”

Today, as the Obesity Society commences their annual scientific meeting in Boston, CCF reminds journalists, scientists and anyone who buys into the worst of the “obesity epidemic” rhetoric, that much of the research put out by Obesity Society faculty has hyped the problem far beyond what’s appropriate in dispassionate scientific discourse.

It is, also, perhaps no coincidence that F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer is set to receive the George A. Bray Founders Award for “significant contributions” to the NAASO and the Obesity Society, considering that both Bray and Pi-Sunyer have received significant financial support from leading weight loss companies. Both are profiled in CCF’s report.

Past NAASO president Barbara Rolls acknowledged that “most of our donations come from a number of pharmaceutical companies.” In 1996, a NAASO newsletter noted that its Corporate Advisory Board consisted of representatives from contributing companies: Amgen, Eli Lilly, Roche, Interneuron, Knoll, Procter & Gamble Co., Slim-Fast Foods, and Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories.