Thursday, July 06, 2006

The Fat Scam

(This is a copy of my letter published in USA Today on June 30):

We owe Barbara D’Souza thanks for her courage in writing about the ordeal of being obese. We have no more right to abuse fat people than we do to abuse anyone else. Still, she has bought into a dangerous and self-defeating myth, namely that that obesity is beyond our control, and is essentially a genetic disability. As a biotechnology executive, I am part of the community that has created and perpetuated that myth. I understand the desperate need people have to feel that they are not at fault, but the truth is, the modern epidemic of obesity is not genetic in origin.

The gene pool has not mysteriously changed since the time of our grandparents. Therefore, genes cannot explain the increase in obesity from their generation to ours. The true explanation is that we have changed our environment and our behavior. The only guaranteed solution to the problem would be to undo some of those changes. There is, however, a whole industry focused on diverting our attention from the truth, and people like Ms. D’Souza are all too vulnerable to the deception.

My industry has aided and abetted this hoax. We stand to make billions, selling pills that can treat obesity. The food industry has an even bigger incentive, because it wants to avoid being held responsible for the toxic environment it has created. It would rather keep people addicted to super-sized meals. Those of us in the food and pharmaceutical industries have a duty to tell the truth: that if we behaved more like our grandparents (eat less, walk more, make and sell better food), fewer of us would be fat. I’m not worried that this truth will harm my business. Since lots of people won’t heed the warning, we will always have a gigantic profit opportunity in treating the consequences--but at least we will have a clear conscience. As they say, the truth can set you free.


Blogger edman said...

Supersize this blog!

July 06, 2006 5:40 PM  
Blogger rama said...


Found the Calcutta story on this blog. Thanks for the well-thought out view, to put things in perspective.

You might like to visit this blog out of Calcutta:



July 10, 2006 12:54 AM  
Blogger rama said...

Hullo again

Your personal info says: "investing in startup medical companies." That's interesting. I'm in medical instrument manufacturing? Some link-up??!!

I'm at



July 10, 2006 2:50 AM  
Blogger Carlos Zapato said...

Thanks for the comments. I will email you with a question.

July 12, 2006 7:42 PM  

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