CBS Obesity Report Trims Opposing Views

     Trish Regan’s “Overweight in America” report investigated a possible “scientific reason” for overeating on Nov. 30, but kept the story light on balance.


     “Ever wonder why we seem to crave most, the food that’s worst for us? Could it be that we literally can’t resist it?” 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 “Evening News” viewers that “food is like a drug.”


     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.


     “This could be the smoking gun. We could say that fat is the next tobacco,” 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 “go after fast food companies” and has already been involved in lawsuits that “resulted in settlements or industry changes.”


      Banzhaf said he thinks if fast food companies had to clearly disclose fat and calorie information and provide “appropriate health warnings” it will immediately and dramatically impact “the overall problem of obesity.”


      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. “When you say a food is addictive,” said Whelan, “what you’re really saying is that the obese person is a victim…that’s abandoning individual responsibility.”


     But Whelan’s comments took a mere 10 seconds of the broadcast, a third of the time taken with Banzhaf’s comments and Regan’s explanation of what the lawyer wants to do about fast food companies.


     KFC, Burger King, McDonalds, Taco Bell, and Arby’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.