SIRC Media Watch Archive
The Pick – April 2004

 The big fat con story. Consider this: from the perspective of a profit-maximising medical and pharmaceutical industry, the ideal disease would be one that never killed those who suffered from it, that could not be treated effectively, and that doctors and their patients would nevertheless insist on treating anyway. Luckily for it, the American health care industry has discovered (or rather invented) just such a disease. It is called "obesity". Basically, obesity research in America is funded by the diet and drug industry – that is, the economic actors who have the most to gain from the conclusion that being fat is a disease that requires aggressive treatment. Many researchers have direct financial relationships with the companies whose products they are evaluating. Guardian.

Zulu women follow Western trend for eating disorders. Western images of super-thin models and actresses are leading to the first cases of eating disorders in the most rural and deprived parts of South Africa. Young black women are rejecting traditional beliefs that "big is beautiful'' and starving themselves on the model of the waif-like idols they see on television, film and in magazines. Consequently, cases of anorexia and bulimia are now emerging in Zululand in rural South Africa, a study by psychologists at Northumbria University found. Independent.

My year of eating dangerously. Are you beginning to get the feeling that every time you pick up the newspaper, turn on the radio or television or click on an e-mail, you'll learn about a new food scare?…I believe in moderation in everything — including moderation. The risk of cancer supposedly increases if you eat more than one 8-ounce fillet of farm-raised salmon a month, for example. But how much is that increased risk? What does it really mean? As I understand the statistics from the Environmental Protection Agency, the risk goes up by one in 100,000 if you eat that 8-ounce farmed salmon fillet once a month for 70 years. By contrast, the risk of getting a fatal heart attack is about one in 400. LA Times

Let them eat cake, butter, cream … For decades the advice has been to cut cholesterol and protect your heart. Now some doctors think it makes no difference. There is almost no connection between the amount of cholesterol in your blood and your risk of a heart attack. Not only that, if you don't already have heart disease, you probably won't live any longer if you bring your cholesterol level down. These are just a few of the highly controversial claims being made by a loose network of researchers, known collectively as the Cholesterol Skeptics. Guardian.