CBS Obesity Report Trims Opposing Views
Trish Reganâ€™s â€śOverweight in Americaâ€ť report investigated a possible â€śscientific reasonâ€ť for overeating on Nov. 30, but kept the story light on balance.
â€śEver wonder why we seem to crave most, the food thatâ€™s worst for us? Could it be that we literally canâ€™t resist it?â€ť Regan asked as images of fast food restaurants, pastries and ice cream flashed across the screen. Then Regan interviewed Ann Kelley, a neuroscientist from the University of Wisconsin who told â€śEvening Newsâ€ť viewers that â€śfood is like a drug.â€ť
Kelley has been studying the effects of drugs and sweets on rats for the past 10 years, and her comments were followed up by a lawyer who wants to take the addiction ideas to court.
â€śThis could be the smoking gun. We could say that fat is the next tobacco,â€ť said John Banzhaf of the George Washington University Law School, best known for his crusading lawsuits against the tobacco companies. Regan explained that Banzhaf wants to â€śgo after fast food companiesâ€ť and has already been involved in lawsuits that â€śresulted in settlements or industry changes.â€ť
Banzhaf said he thinks if fast food companies had to clearly disclose fat and calorie information and provide â€śappropriate health warningsâ€ť it will immediately and dramatically impact â€śthe overall problem of obesity.â€ť
Regan then tried to provide some balance to her report by quoting Elizabeth Whelan of the American Council on Science and Health, an adviser to the Business & Media Institute. â€śWhen you say a food is addictive,â€ť said Whelan, â€śwhat youâ€™re really saying is that the obese person is a victimâ€¦thatâ€™s abandoning individual responsibility.â€ť
But Whelanâ€™s comments took a mere 10 seconds of the broadcast, a third of the time taken with Banzhafâ€™s comments and Reganâ€™s explanation of what the lawyer wants to do about fast food companies.
KFC, Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Arbyâ€™s logos were all distinguishable during the broadcast. Despite that, Regan neglected to speak with any food companies about the cost impact of changes Banzhaf wants to see.