If the Science is So Strong, Why Do Public-Health Folks Lie So Much?


Reason columnist and Keep Food Legal honcho Baylen Linnekin has an op-ed in today's New York Post about "sneaky public-health messaging."

Read on:

In 2010, another [New York City] Health Department ad claimed drinking one can of soda a day "can make you 10 pounds fatter a year." Yet internal department e-mails showed that the city's own chief nutritionist called the ad "absurd." And a department marketing manager said it "would raise a lot of skepticism within the public." The ad ran anyway after the mayor's health commissioner overruled his advisers.

Sneaky public-health messaging appears to be on the upswing across the country, particularly when it comes to soda. In California, a taxpayer-funded group, First 5 California, recently used Photoshop to transform a healthy-weight adolescent girl drinking skim milk into an obese girl drinking from a giant sugar packet.

Similar tactics are becoming common in public-health research. In 2011, the author of a widely reported study linking soda consumption and teen violence later admitted there was no reason to think soft drinks cause teens to be violent. In 2012, a Harvard-affiliated hospital was forced to admit it had promoted a "weak" study tying aspartame, an artificial sweetener used in soda, to cancer.

After you finish your head-sized cruller and 64-ounce mochalotta, read the whole thing.