1. Associated Press article.
2. Center for Consumer Freedom response.
3. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine response
Fighting Fat and Climate Change
By SETH BORENSTEIN – Nov 11, 2007
WASHINGTON (AP) — America's obesity epidemic and global warming might not seem to have much in common. But public health experts suggest people can attack them both by cutting calories and carbon dioxide at the same time.
How? Get out of your car and walk or bike half an hour a day instead of driving. And while you're at it, eat less red meat. That's how Americans can simultaneously save the planet and their health, say doctors and climate scientists.
The payoffs are huge, although unlikely to happen. One numbers-crunching scientist calculates that if all Americans between 10 and 74 walked just half an hour a day instead of driving, they would cut the annual U.S. emissions of carbon dioxide, the chief greenhouse gas, by 64 million tons.
About 6.5 billion gallons of gasoline would be saved. And Americans would also shed more than 3 billion pounds overall, according to these calculations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is considering public promotion of the "co-benefits" of fighting global warming and obesity-related illnesses through everyday exercise, like walking to school or work, said Dr. Howard Frumkin, director of the CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.
"A simple intervention like walking to school is a climate change intervention, an obesity intervention, a diabetes intervention, a safety intervention," Frumkin told The Associated Press. "That's the sweet spot."
Climate change is a deadly and worsening public health issue, said Frumkin and other experts. The World Health Organization estimated that 160,000 people died in 2000 from malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and drownings from floods — problems that public health and climate scientists contend were worsened by global warming. Officials predict that in the future those numbers will be higher.
The American Public Health Association, which will highlight the health problems of global warming in April, is seeking to connect obesity and climate change solutions, said executive director Dr. Georges Benjamin.
"This may present the greatest public health opportunity that we've had in a century," said University of Wisconsin health sciences professor Dr. Jonathan Patz, president of the International Association for Ecology and Health.
The key is getting people out of the car, Patz and Frumkin told the public health association at its annual convention. Reducing car travel in favor of biking or walking would not only cut obesity and greenhouse gases, they said, it would also mean less smog, fewer deaths from car crashes, less osteoporosis, and even less depression since exercise helps beat the blues.
In a little-noticed scientific paper in 2005, Paul Higgins, a scientist and policy fellow with the American Meteorological Society, calculated specific savings from adopting federal government recommendations for half an hour a day of exercise instead of driving.
The average person walking half an hour a day would lose about 13 pounds a year. And if everyone did that instead of driving the same distance, the nation would burn a total of 10.5 trillion calories, according to the scientist, formerly with the University of California at Berkeley. At the same time, that would cut carbon dioxide emissions by about the same amount New Mexico produces, he said.
"The real bang for the buck in reducing greenhouse gas emissions was from the avoided health expenses of a sedentary lifestyle," said Higgins.
But it's not just getting out of the car that's needed, said Dr. Robert Lawrence of the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. A diet shift away from heavy meat consumption would also go far, he said, because it takes much more energy and land to produce meat than fruits, vegetables and grains.
Recent studies support that argument. Last year the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the meat sector of the global economy is responsible for 18 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions. Much of that is indirect, including the fertilizer needed to grow massive amounts of feed for livestock, energy use in the whole growing process, methane released from fertilizer and animal manure, and transportation of the cattle and meat products.
Similar calculations were made in a study in September in the medical journal Lancet.
The average American man eats 1.6 times as much meat as the government recommends, Lawrence said. Some studies have shown eating a lot of red meat is linked to a higher risk for colon cancer.
As for fighting obesity and global warming by walking and cycling, don't expect people to do it easily, said Kristie Ebi. She's a Virginia public health consultant and one of the lead authors of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
Citing the decades-long effort to curb smoking, she said, "It turns out changing people's habits is very hard."
On the Net:
• American Public Health Association: http://www.apha.org/
• National Center for Environmental Health: http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/climatechange/
Rebutting data on meat, climate
By: David Martosko
Posted: November 20, 2007
Dr. Robert Lawrence, in advising a diet shift away from heavy meat consumption, ought to do his homework before linking U.S. meat production to climate change ["Fighting fat and climate change," Newsday.com, Nov. 11].
While the United Nations claims meat producers are responsible for 18 percent of global greenhouse gases, data from the Environmental Protection Agency show that U.S. livestock production only contributes 2.4 percent.
If anything, Lawrence should be encouraging us to eat home-grown beef, since our domestic ranchers appear far more efficient and eco-friendly than their counterparts overseas.
And it's not true that Americans are eating far more red meat than the government recommends. Data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture show that the average American eats 2.3 ounces of red meat per day.
This is far below the 5 to 7 ounces that the federal government's current dietary guidelines recommend for foods in the "meat" group.
Animal rights activists and other advocates of strict vegetarianism are working overtime trying to hitch their cause to the global warming bandwagon. But the facts just aren't on their side.
Sunday December 2, 2007
Don't believe 'facts' from corporate shills
As communications director for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, I'd like to correct false information in a recent letter by David Martosko ("Advice questioned," Nov. 27).
Martosko's employer, the Center for Consumer Freedom, is a corporate front group that has taken millions of dollars from tobacco giant Philip Morris, as well as large contributions from fast-food chains and soda makers.
PCRM is an independent nonprofit research and advocacy organization financed mainly by donations from our membership, which includes more than 6,000 physicians. PCRM often cooperates with other organizations, but none of them, including PETA, has ever provided a major part of PCRM's budget.
Scientific studies have shown that a plant-based diet can reduce the risk of chronic diseases. A vegan diet has also proved effective at managing type 2 diabetes. That may not please the burger chains that fund Martosko's organization, but Americans deserve to know that good nutrition can safeguard their health.
Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine
Posted by JohnnySensible at 12/03/07 19:45:01Richard Berman, Philip Morris etc. vs PETA & PCRM - http://www.consumerdeception.com/
Posted Tuesday November 27, 2007
I would like to correct some misleading information in a Nov. 11 letter by Susan Levin ("Plant-only is best").
A meatless and milk-less "vegan" diet is a fine choice for the tiny minority of Americans who believe in the "rights" of animals, but it is not a recognized cure for diabetes, cancer or other ailments.
Levin's organization, the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), is an animal-rights group, not a mainstream medical or nutrition organization. More than two-thirds of its $9 million budget comes directly from the wealthy founder of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida. PETA has contributed $1.3 million.
Animal rights activists will naturally want to steer Americans toward plant-only diets, but they should be honest about their motives. And Americans with health issues should be listening to their doctors, not to a group of save- the-chickens radicals.
Director of Research
Center for Consumer Freedom
Readers Comment -
The misnamed Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) is little more than a public relations group for such industries as agribusiness, fast food, and tobacco. Its seed money came from Philip Morris. CCF owns the anti-PETA website (and a slew of other mud-slinging sites) they point to as though it were an entirely independent reference.
CCF opposes warning labels on food, bans on smoking in public places, and other such measures that protect consumers. CCF thinks drink driving laws are too tough and waged a campaign against Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. They attack anyone who dares to ask about the safety of red meat consumption, alcohol, genetically engineered foods, pesticides, and antibiotic use in food animals. They hide behind the name of their organization and titles such as Mr Martosko's (Director of Research) and attack anyone who is a threat to their member interests. They have colorful language to describe the scientists and others who disagree with their agenda. They twist words around so that now in order to be of any benefit, a vegan diet must "cure" cancer or diabetes in order to be of any real benefit. A faulty argument, yes, but this group of clownish radicals does whatever they deem necessary to attack the credibility of those they oppose.
For more information on the deceptively named Center for Consumer Freedom, visit http://www.consumerdeception.com/
Posted by: scoutk on Wed Nov 28, 2007 7:37 am
Posted by JohnnySensible at 12/03/07 19:58:05Washington Post on Richard Berman -
= Berman's center was jump-started in 1995 with money from Philip Morris, and, thanks to memos that were made public in the discovery process during the lawsuits against Big Tobacco, his strategic vision is now plain for all to see. "The concept," he wrote Philip Morris at the time, "is to unite the restaurant and hospitality industries in a campaign to defend their consumers and marketing programs against attacks from anti-smoking, anti-drinking, anti-meat, etc. activists." The industries apparently have appreciated Berman's work. According to the Center for Media and Democracy, a former Berman associate has produced documents showing that Coca-Cola, Wendy's, Tyson Foods, Cargill and Outback Steakhouse are among Berman's largest donors. =
Posted by Stig at 12/16/07 08:38:50cspinet.org/EatingGreen/index.html
I like CSPI - this article below is more than 4 years old but quite relevant still to this thread.
It shows the lengths that Richard Berman & Co. will go to to promote animal torture & other related perversions.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, February 20, 2003
FOR MORE INFORMATION: Jeff Cronin: 202-777-8370
BOGUS 'CONSUMER' GROUP STRIPPED OF DOMAIN NAMES
Restaurant and Bar Lobby Behind "Orwellian" PR Campaign
WASHINGTON-A trade association representing chain restaurants and taverns has surrendered the domain names of two sites designed to hijack web traffic away from the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), the pro-nutrition advocacy group. The trade association, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), had registered cspinot.com, where it attacked CSPI and it's web site, cspinet.org. CCF had also purchased smartmouth.org, a domain name almost identical to that of Smart-Mouth.org, where CSPI provides information for children about nutrition and food marketing.
CCF is one of a shadowy trio of tax-exempt front groups run by Washington lobbyist Richard Berman. That trio also includes the American Beverage Institute, which fights laws designed to curb drunk driving, and the Employment Policies Institute, which is opposed to raising the minimum wage, particularly in the labor-intensive restaurant industry. CCF used to be named the Guest Choice Network, which was founded with seed money from Philip Morris. Berman controls all the organizations, which operate out of Berman's for-profit business, Berman & Co. The current funders of these groups are not disclosed, but Berman's groups are associated with executives from table-service restaurants like Outback Steakhouse, Chili's, and Pizzeria Uno.
"The so-called Center for Consumer Freedom deceives the American people every day of the week by posing as a consumer group, when it's really a front group that does P.R. dirty work for the restaurant and tavern industry," said CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson. "But even I was surprised that Rick Berman and his henchmen would stoop so low as to stop young kids from getting valuable nutrition information. I'm never surprised, though, by the goofy and low-brow tone of his efforts. Berman's a real bottom-feeder."
CSPI filed complaints under ICANN's dispute resolution policy. ICANN is the body charged with regulating the Internet domain name system. This is not the first such defeat for CCF, whose registration of the domain name cspinet.com was successfully challenged in January 2002. Also that month, Berman's group had to turn over the domain name chefscollaborative.info to its rightful owner, Chefs Collaborative. In that decision, the panel found that CCF "has engaged in a pattern of registering domain names with the intention of depriving political opponents that own a mark from using that mark in a corresponding domain name."
According to the latest ruling, "[I]t appears that [CCF] attempted to create confusion among Internet users looking for [CSPI's] websites." While one of the sites at issue, cspinot.com, criticized CSPI, CCF redirected traffic from smartmouth.org to the kid's section of the American Dental Association's (ADA)'s web site. According to CSPI, that helped show that CCF acted in bad faith, merely intending to confuse the young visitors trying to reach Smart-Mouth.org.
"The Center for Consumer Freedom has absolutely nothing to do with consumers, but it has everything to do with maximizing profits for major restaurant-and-bar chains," Jacobson said. "It's totally Orwellian. CCF's client companies want consumers-and their kids, evidently-to have less information about their food choices, not more. CCF is anti-parent, anti-kid, anti-health, and anti-truth. The restaurants that fund CCF should be ashamed."
Note: The decision of the National Arbitration Forum panel in Center for Science in the Public Interest v. Guest Choice Network (FA021000128796) is available at www.arbitration-forum.com/domains/decisions/128796.htm.
The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) is a nonprofit health-advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., that focuses on nutrition and food safety. CSPI is supported largely by the 800,000 U.S. and Canadian subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and by foundation grants.
CSPI's Smart-Mouth.org helps make learning about healthy eating fun for kids. It lets kids see for themselves how their favorite restaurant foods stack up, and teaches kids how industry marketing practices influence their food choices.
Center for Science in the Public Interest
1875 Connecticut Avenue, NW #300
Washington, DC 20009
(202) 332-9110 ext. 370