“And Now a Word from Our Sponsor”

A few weeks ago, as I watched the Bears flounder through yet another miserable gridiron performance, a teaser for this Sixty Minutes segment piqued my interest. Recognizing and treating obesity as a disease – 60 Minutes – CBS News.

Unfortunately, viewing this program—from a news show that I had previously respected—left me feeling as disappointed, discouraged, and disgusted as my hapless home team. Their “report” on a medical breakthrough for obesity was a thinly veiled infomercial for a $1,300-a-month injectable drug.

First, the 60 Minutes correspondent Leslie Stahl did not challenge any of the claims made by the alleged experts she interviewed. One doctor stated that the number one cause of obesity is genetics. Really?

There are plenty of peer-reviewed published studies that indicate genetics play a much smaller role than diet in obesity. She also ignored the skyrocketing rates of obesity worldwide over the last 30 years. How did our genetics change so much over a single generation? Or could the global spread of the Standard Western diet loaded with high-fat, high-sugar, highly processed foods be the culprit?

I will give Ms. Stahl credit for revealing that the drug company that makes the obesity pill was a sponsor of 60 Minutes. (Miss it? It’s at the 6:25 mark.) What she failed to mention is that the two doctors profiled in this story received a total of more than $100,000 from the same drug company, as pointed out in a video update by Dr. Neal Barnard of the Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine (see 14:53 mark).

There is one point on which most experts agree. Obesity is a complex disease caused by many factors. But ultimately, we each own what we put into our body—and the bodies of our children. Not a doctor. Not a “news” show (a term which 60 Minutes seems to use very loosely). Not even a well-intentioned Whole Food Plant Based blogger. You owe it to yourself and your loved ones to challenge the medical information you are given. The stakes are too high to cede this responsibility to those who may place making a buck over your long-term health.

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