Undereating and Overtreating

A study in the journal Pediatrics given prominence by the AP reports a link between heavy readership of weight-loss articles in teen mags and risky weight-loss practices five years later.

Since the study was based on self-reporting by the subjects, there is no way to determine how accurate it was. But even if there is such a link, the problem isn’t the reading – God knows that young people need to be reading anything they can – it is the behaviors of the girls, their parents, their doctors and the people who stock physicians’ waiting rooms with such magazines.

A related and more dangerous health risk is reported in an essay in the New York Times by three prominent advocates of evidence-based medicine who note that the health care system – and its penchant for “medicalizing” every natural ache, pain and mood – is itself dangerous to our well-being. We are, the authors argue, overscreened, overdiagnosed, overtreated and, ultimately, underserved by a system that makes us use doctors more, not less.

In the case of magazines, it is pretty transparent what is going on – publishers selling ads based on teenagers’ fears. But in the case of disease-mongering, we are blinded by the fact the hucksters have M.D.s and Ph.D.s behind their names.


The material in this press release comes from the originating research organization. Content may be edited for style and length. Have a question? Let us know.

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