NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


August 10, 2004

In a new report entitled "An Epidemic of Obesity Myths," the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) provides empirical evidence that disputes many commonly cited statistics and presumptions driving today's obesity hysteria.

Citing a wide array of health, exercise and nutrition experts, the report rebuts an oft-cited study that estimates obesity kills 400,000 Americans every year. The report says such estimates are exaggerated for a number of reasons:

  • Since society's ability to treat obesity-related health issues has improved dramatically in a generation, the study's exclusive use of data from 1948 to 1983 limits the ability to draw meaningful conclusions.
  • Despite including some 58,000 deaths as a result of being overweight, the study's own data show there is no statistical relationship between being overweight and increased risk of death.
  • The study does not adequately control for age, which is the strongest risk factor for nearly all diseases.

Another myth the Center for Consumer Freedom seeks to dispel is that obesity costs the U.S. economy $117 billion every year. The study that calculated this figure suffers from serious limitations such as double-counting medical costs and using a questionable definition of obesity, says the CCF.

Source: "An Epidemic of Obesity Myths," Center for Consumer Freedom, June, 2004.


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