As the interviewer points out, McDonald's has bent over backwards to accommodate the food faddists in recent years, but, for people like Banzhaf nothing is ever enough. The interview soon turns into a slanging match (it's from Fox News), and neither side makes a very good case. In the end, Banzhaf resorts to gloating about how that he's "winning" (although all the lawsuits he has filed against McDonald's have failed).
Don't expect a reasoned debate, but scholars of the slippery slope will enjoy counting how many times the tubby legal vulture equates McDonald's with the tobacco industry.
“But even though study after study have [sic] shown soda to be a significant contributor to America’s staggering obesity crisis, he says there is too little ‘solid evidence’… Allison has said such studies haven’t been rigorous enough to prove soda contributes to obesity, but critics say his skepticism stems from his financial ties to entities such as Coca-Cola, Pepsi and the American Beverage Association, who, critics say, have paid Allison to poke holes in the scientific consensus.”
The problem, as Butterworth points out, is that "study after study" has shown nothing of the sort. Soda is no more fattening that fruit juice and the epidemiological evidence linking it to obesity is weak. If that weren't enough, it turns out that studies funded by the food industry are less biased than those funded by the state. This is an example of “white hat bias”, ie. distorting information to advance fashionable causes. It is perhaps the main source of bias in epidemiology today; certainly it is the most under-reported. We come across a lot of it on this blog.
When you piece all these elements together, the ABC news piece increasingly looks like journalists taking on the role of hitmen in an academic vendetta, one in which they are clueless about the underlying data but absolutely certain that the conventional wisdom is right.
And so, the result is that thanks to ABC’s totally misleading account of the evidence on sugared drinks and weight gain, Allison will almost certainly be removed from legitimate debate, tarred forever with the insinuation that he is merely a shill for industry.
The whole story of how this man has been vilified is fascinating and important. Please go read.