ABC Warns That Cutting Food Costs Can Lead to Obesity

ABC's "World News Sunday" found a new twist on the obesity crisis Feb. 1. Apparently, recession can "lead to a spike in obesity."

Anchor Dan Harris introduced the "counterintuitive" report saying, "Americans are cutting back on food spending which could actually lead to a spike in obesity." Why? Because "eating healthy can cost more," ABC's Stephanie Sy reported.

Sy worried about "cheap treats" "that many public health experts fear may cause obesity rates to rise in the recession."

Interviewing shoppers in Aldi, a discount food chain, Sy said "most folks are stocking up on processed foods high in fat and sugar." Acting as the food police, Sy teased one customer about cinnamon Danishes in his cart saying, "What are these about? Very high in fat, very high in sugar."

But like many other media reports about obesity, Sy did not present the argument that ultimately every person is responsible for his or her own food choices.

The Business & Media Institute analyzed coverage of obesity in 2004 and found that more than half of reports were spun to blame business for Americans' weight gain. Other reports have blamed food advertising, called for obesity taxes and more food regulation.

Sy's report also included the media's trend of referencing the Great Depression though the economic data does not support the comparison.

As video footage of a soup line aired, Sy said, "During the Great Depression people were forced to eat less and line up at soup kitchens. Today we aren't necessarily cutting back on the quantity we eat, but the quality."
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour
Julia A. Seymour is the Assistant Managing Editor for the MRC's Business and Media Institute.