ABC Groaner: Now Just Living 'Near' Fast Food Places Kills?

The ABC News medical unit wants to warn you about a stunning new risk to your health: fast food. Amazingly, it "ups your stroke risk" ABC tells us. Of course, we all know that eating too much fast food is bad for us, right? Well ABC has even more startling news. It isn't necessarily only eating the stuff that'll kill you. You see, ABC wants us to believe that just living near fast food places will kill you, too.

Now stop laughing. I think ABC is serious with this stuff.

ABC unleashed this "news" piece on February 19 with a headline that screams "Living Near Fast Food Ups Stroke Risk" and based it on yet another one of those groundbreaking "studies" that are always touted as "science." This piece is filled with dire warnings and shocking conclusions... unless you actually read it, that is. Then you find it is really built on conjecture, maybes and assumptions instead of hard proof. So much for science.

But, first the scary claims:

People living in neighborhoods where fast food restaurants are plentiful appear to have a higher risk of stroke than those living where such restaurants are scarce, a new study says.

Fast food consumption has previously been linked to higher rates of heart disease and organ damage. In this latest study tying fast food restaurants to cardiovascular ills, researchers studying neighborhoods in one Texas county found that people living in regions with 33 fast food restaurants or more had 13 percent greater odds of stroke than those living in neighborhoods with the fewest fast-food joints.

The study also showed that each additional fast food restaurant in the neighborhood increased the chance of stroke by 1 percent. The results of the research were presented at the International Stroke Conference in San Diego on Thursday.

Wow, a 13 percent rise in strokes for those living near a McDondald's and an increase of 1 percent with each additional greasy spoon in the neighborhood? Stop the presses. Call out the National Guard. We've got to do something here!

But wait. What did that say again? Did that say "...studying neighborhoods in one Texas county..."? One Texas county? That's all they surveyed? ONE COUNTY? One state?

I'm not going to bother with any of the other claims in this thing. But I will highlight some of the disclaimers and weasel words that basically says the headline and first few paragraphs aren't really science all of which appears in the very same piece.

  • ...appear to have a higher risk...
  • ...in one Texas county...
  • This study suggests...
  • But he cautioned that the findings are purely associative and do not necessarily point to a direct link between the restaurants' offerings and potentially deadly stroke.
  • "I can't tell you that anybody who had a stroke in this study has ever had a burger in their lives," Morgenstern said.
  • ...results of the research did not lend themselves easily to an interpretation that fast food was the true stroke culprit.
  • While the exact reasons for the association may be difficult to pinpoint in this study...
  • Researchers have speculated...

And these are just a few of the lines that refutes the scary headline and first few paragraphs showing that the study might be all hooie and hokum because it turns out the study ABC uses doesn't actually prove the claims made. Seriously, there are several more paragraphs down in the piece that proceed to debunk or prove as less than solid the bold claims made at the top. Never have I seen a piece torn down by itself so blatantly.

This is an amazing example of bait and switch.

Now, I think I can help ABC out with their "scientific" health reports in the future, though. Try this headline ABC: This just in, living results in a 100% death rate.

There ya go ABC. Glad to help.

(Image credit: scruss.com)