Tuesday, July 11, 2017

By the numbers: word counts in CDC nominee Brenda Fitzgerald's column for Coca-Cola

The Trump administration last week named Georgia Public Health Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald as the next leader of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a crucial federal public health agency. The CDC is based in Atlanta, so she won't have to move far.

Politico's Morning Agriculture briefing today noted that Dr. Fitzgerald has previously worked with projects that received $1.4 million dollars from the Coca-Cola Company, also based in Atlanta. Politico gives credit to a tweet from Russ Greene for noting her contribution of a 2013 column on childhood obesity to the Coca-Cola website.

Dr. Fitzgerald's column on childhood obesity follows the traditional sugar-sweetened beverage industry script with perfect rectitude, to an extent that seems remarkable for a public health official. The industry's story line prefers to emphasize physical activity rather than sugar or beverage intake as risk factors for childhood obesity, and in particular never to mention the association between sugar intake and Type II diabetes. Here are my word count statistics for Dr. Fitzgerald's column:
  • obesity: 4
  • health or healthier: 6
  • movement or moving: 7
  • physical activity: 6
  • diabetes: 4
  • beverage: 0
  • soda: 0
  • sugar: 0
  • sweet or sweetened: 0
  • calories: 0
  • intake: 0
  • consume or consumption: 1 (a reference to fruits and vegetables!)
From a sugar-sweetened beverage industry perspective, it's a perfect score.

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