The incoming president of the Obesity Society has filed a 33-page affidavit questioning the city’s new rules requiring chain restaurants to prominently display calorie information on their menus. Dr. David B. Allison (pictured), a professor of biostatistics and nutrition at the University of Alabama, cites a study indicating that dieters who get distracted by calorie information are more likely to overeat. And even if the daunting calorie details prompt diners to go for lower calorie items, they'll just end up overeating later because their healthier choice won't really satiate them.
But Allison’s affidavit has drawn fire from colleagues because he was paid an undisclosed sum to write it on behalf of the New York State Restaurant Association, which is suing to block the new rules. Dr. Allison has previously consulted for Frito-Lay, Kraft Foods and Coca-Cola, a company he defended against a proposed ban in schools by citing research showing that birds put on weight when food is scarce. Contradicting their president-elect, the Obesity Society released a statement last week supporting calorie labeling on menus, which starts at the end of next month and includes beverages, too.
According to the Times, many of the group’s 1,800 members are livid that Dr. Allison “wants to hold back information from people that helps them make healthy choices.” In defending his affidavit, Dr. Allison said, “I’m happy to be involved in the pursuit for truth. Sometimes, when I’m involved in the pursuit for truth, I’m hired by the Federal Trade Commission. Sometimes I help them. Sometimes I help a group like the restaurant industry.” And sometimes the restaurant industry helps by sending out nice, fat checks!