Tuesday, January 25, 2011

ABC newsflash: Aspartame a "biochemical warfare agent"

Psychologist Lydia Jade Turner, managing director of BodyMatters Australasia, a for-profit organisation that provides services for those with eating disorders (including fatties), attacks the competition:
This week marks the start of ‘Healthy Weight Week,’ brought to you by the Dieticians Association of Australia (DAA).

With the DAA claiming that 61 per cent of Australian adults and 25 per cent of Australian children are either overweight or obese, many people would think this is a great initiative. So why are a growing number of health professionals opposed to this campaign?
None of the "growing number of health professionals opposed" to healthy eating is nominated, however. Turner goes on to slam obesity researchers whose work is funded by "Big Pharma":
The reality is that obesity research is riddled with conflicts of interest.
Obviously science ain't science when it's corporately funded. But science, or reality, isn't exactly Turner's forte:
The DAA’s Healthy Weight Week recommendations advise us to swap soft drink for diet versions. Do they seriously believe that putting aspartame - a chemical previously listed by The Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent - into one’s body is healthier than real sugar?
Instead of the fat turning to discredited "obesity experts" who poison their clients with sweeteners of mass destruction Turner offers this feel-good-about-yourself advice:
[Health At Every Size] acknowledges that our bodies are continually communicating with us. Whether you are constipated, hungry, or satiated, it helps to stop and listen. Intuitive eating teaches us to reconnect with our internal signals. If you eat highly-processed foods regularly, chances are you aren’t going to feel very well. Listening to our bodies is a skill.

HAES also encourages people to engage in physical movement that is pleasurable to them, instead of obsessively counting their steps with a pedometer or seeing exercise as punishment. Respecting body diversity and seeing health as an ongoing multi-faceted process will help to end the war against our bodies. Every day we can feel good about the fact that we have respected our bodies through health-giving activities, instead of hating ourselves for not reaching that number on the scales. After all, how can you truly nourish something you hate?
And aren't we lucky that Turner's BodyMatters Australasia just happens to offer a multi-faceted counseling and treatment service that can either help you lose weight or make you feel good about your body, or both.

I do have one question, however: what the hell is this self-promotional nonsense doing at the ABC News site?

Update A civil comment asking about the nature of Turner's business, health professionals opposing Healthy Weight Week and the toxicity of aspartame has not made it through moderation. My first ever comment at the site and it's blocked. I am shocked.

Update II My comment has suddenly appeared:

Ms Turner,

You do provide for-fee services and treatment for overweight individuals, do you not?

Please provide the names of health care professionals other than yourself, and possibly your partner, who oppose "Healthy Weight Week".

Also, please back up your claim that aspartame is, or ever was, a "biochemical warfare agent".
It'll be interesting to see if/how Turner responds.


Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

Once upon a time when someone said they represented a 'growing number' of people, a hard-nosed journo would demand numbers and evidence.

These days, it seems PR is taken at face value.

I'm reminded of a certain other ABC favourite, who frequently referred to his "best-selling book" but never disclosed numbers sold. Or boasted about his "growing movement" even though a bunch of people who briefly associated with Antony Loewenstein told him to get fucked, when they learned what he really represented.

2:10 PM  
Anonymous spot said...

And it's allegedly the Right which rejects science?

Throw this lot in with the Big Pharma troofers, the anti-vax nuts and the alt-health loons.

2:55 PM  
Anonymous spot said...

"aspartame - a chemical previously listed by The Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent"
I did a Google search for aspartame+pentagon+biochemical+warfare+agent
and all I got were fringe blog after fringe blog of junk science (with our taxpayer-funded ABC now thrown into the mix!) spouting the same line, with no primary sources.

The closest I came to a semi-reputable blog was HuffPo (I know, I know) which does seem to be the source of a lot of those quotes. It does use the exact phrase "After all, aspartame was previously listed by the Pentagon as a biochemical warfare agent!".

(Do a search on that exact phrase - it's quoted all over the place)

However, whenever others tried to find a primary source for that, it looks like they got stuck. A couple of links:



There are also a lot of source-less Bush-era blog posts blaming Bush, Cheney, Reagan & Rumsfeld for deliberately introducing Aspartame in order to poison Americans. Example:
...they start seriously running into the crazy-wall.

Junk science just circulates so widely on the internet and is gobbled up and taken as "true fact" (the science is settled!) by anyone whose agenda it happens to fit, that it's hard to believe anything without primary sources.

It doesn't surprise me that the kinds of gullible woo-driven people who would swallow anti-vax junkscience, naturopathy & other useless alt-med, cancer-quackery AND "catastrophic man-made global warming causes everything" -- all with no science-based evidence at all -- would buy into this one as well.

Anyway, now that Our ABC is going to no doubt be used by Google-experts as a "respectable source" for some pretty dire claims about aspartame, I think it would be interesting to see where she picked it up.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous spot said...

(By the way, I have no stake in this, and happen to prefer real sugar to fake sweeteners myself... I just hate quackery and pseudoscience. I'm happy to be wrong, if someone comes up with actual trustworthy sources for some of the wilder claims surrounding aspartame)

7:45 PM  
Blogger Usiku said...

Start here, http://dorway.com/dorwblog/history-of-aspartame/how-did-aspartame-get-approved-by-the-fda/
and here, http://dorway.com/dorwblog/history-of-aspartame/how-did-aspartame-get-approved-by-the-fda/aspartame-approved-1980-fda-pboi-said-no/

7:26 AM  
Anonymous spot said...

"DORway.com is an anti-aspartame informational site".

With all respect, Usiko, I was looking for a science-based primary source, not yet another anti-Aspartame agitprop site. Cheers.

8:15 AM  
Anonymous Dan Lewis said...

I don't know anything about aspartame but I do know that Joseph Goebells, the Nazi Minister for Propaganda said that if you repeat a big lie enough, people start to believe it.

I wonder what he would have made of the Internet.

I'm sure the various conspiracy theories will find their way to Wikipedia after which time they will be undeniable 'fact'...

A Google search for "aspartame hoax" yields some interesting reading...

3:33 PM  

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