mm363: "60 Minutes:" Dead wrong?

MUDGE’s Musings

The ‘Sphere is full of fulminating amateurs. Take yr (justifiably) humble svt, for example. When it comes to blogging, amateur. Maybe a little talented. Maybe.

Then there are the well informed, insightful, professionals, with credentials and research chops, who could be writing anywhere, but, I’m guessing, have found in the blogosphere the editorial freedom that might be lacking in the constrained world of the mainstream media.

One such genius has been admired in this space many times.

Junkfood Science: Sandy Szwarc’s Genius

mm305: Google Health – 1984 for the 21st Century
mm276: Fat Tuesday…
mm197: Short attention span
mm177: Healthy eating — Overrated!
mm165: Junkfood Science: Obesity Paradox #13

This past weekend Ms. Szwarc took on the top of the respected television news pyramid: “60 Minutes.” Now, that’s a contradiction in terms if ever one was coined: respected television news. But, millions of people watch it, and have done so for 40 or more years.

And when “60 Minutes” recently presented a glowing report on gastric bypass surgery, Ms. Szwarc says that they left the realm of news far, far behind.


The other side of the story — Part One

Sandy Szwarc, BSN, RN, CCP | April 26, 2008

Medical news stories on television serve one purpose: to air entertainment of sufficient shock and awe value to generate the most viewers and advertising income for the networks. The lure of advertising dollars, and efforts to please advertisers, has led to content that is little more than infomercials.

Viewers who forget this fact and believe that these stories are anything other than fiction and marketing can put themselves in danger. When viewers think they are getting accurate presentations of medical research, balanced portrayals of risks and benefits, and of reality — because these news stories look like credible medical investigative reports — and use them to make health decisions, television can become life-threatening.

This danger was best exampled on Sunday when CBS 60 Minutes aired a special claiming that gastric bypass surgery cures diabetes and cancer.

As always, Sandy Szwarc is thorough where mainstream media is cursory; she digs deep into the statistics to get the truth, rather than accept the superficial gloss published by those with a sales agenda.

After you read part one, click Home, or back here, and find part two; it’s a lengthy read, but if you or a loved one has ever considered bariatric surgery (me! me!), the time spent will be not much more than the few minutes of CBS’s distorted presentation. The letters from the patient and his fiancée are gripping, heart-breaking and frightening.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Junkfood Science: The other side of the story — Part One

Junkfood Science: The other side of the story — Part Two

As alluded to above, I once sought out a surgeon to discuss the gastric bypass option for me. It was interesting to me that that office scale registered, but just barely, that I was a legitimate candidate (showing a higher weight than I’d ever seen for me at that time). That took me aback; I felt that I was being hard-sold. Rather disconcerting for a medical office, part of a group in which I’d been a satisfied patient for many years.

So, I went home and discarded the idea. And, that was long years before I knew of Sandy Szwarc and her relentless, in-depth research. For example, here’s a statistic that 13.6 million people did not hear on 60 minutes:

These death rates were compared to actual U.S. National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data on matching Americans of the same age and BMI. By best estimates, bariatric surgeries likely increase the actual mortality risks for these patients by 7-fold in the first year and by 363% to 250% the first four years.

I think that I dodged a bullet. Wish I weighed less every day, but bariatric surgery will not be in my future.

Thanks, once again, Sandy Szwarc, for digging in, and finding the truth, or at least a “truer” truth, amidst the fog of professional medical and media obfuscating.

It’s it for now. Thanks,


Share this post : it! digg it! reddit! technorati! yahoo!

3 Responses to mm363: "60 Minutes:" Dead wrong?

  1. Sandy says:

    Thank you so much for your kind comments and I am so glad I was able to be of help to you, too! Very much so.

  2. mudge says:

    Sandy, I’m pleased that you stopped by. Thanks!

  3. […]   mm363: “60 Minutes:” Dead wrong? […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s