US Obesity Expands PR Budgets

"The United States spent $75.1 billion last year on medical expenses, such as drugs, doctor visits and hospitalizations, related to obesity, according to a study published this month in the journal Obesity Research," the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The study, financed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, found that taxpayers paid half of the bill through Medicare and Medicaid programs. Obesity-related health problems added up to 5.7 percent of the nation's total medical expenses, according to the report.
America's expanding waistline has meant more fast food and soft drink dollars being spent on PR. "New York-area McDonald's have kicked off a PR campaign designed to increase sales by telling customers how various McDonald's offering cans fit into their favorite diets," PR Week reports. The industry front group Center for Consumer Freedom, which got $200,000 from Coca-Cola in 2001, wrote in an newspaper op-ed that opposition to soda machines in schools is "fueled by junk science and media frenzy" and that it is a "wild claim that soda consumption causes childhood obesity."