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Fact Check Friday: Bloomberg’s Whopper

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file / credit: Kristen Artz / Mayor's Office)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (file / credit: Kristen Artz / Mayor’s Office)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - It’s that time again – Fact Check Friday. It’s when, with the help of factcheck.org, a nonpartisan non-profit part of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, we see if our leaders are telling us the truth.

Today’s focus is a claim made by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg while on the “Late Show with David Letterman” on the subject of over-eating.

“For the first time in the history of the world, more people will die from over-eating than under-eating this year,” Bloomberg said.

Was the mayor telling truth or serving up a whopper?

“Well, it’s certainly an exaggeration  It’s not true that obesity or being overweight is going to lead to more deaths than under-eating for the first time in history this year,” Lori Robertson, who covers health for factcheck.org, told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot. “It’s actually been the case for quite some time.”

Bloomberg did go on to qualify his statement.

“It’s all happened in the last 20 years,” he said.

“And he would have been correct to say that there has been a shift in these risk factors for death sometime in the last 20 years,” Robertson said. “But he’s been repeating the statement many times saying that it’s the first time in the history of the world and that’s a bit confusing.”

Robertson said that, according to data obtained from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, it’s been since at least 2005.

So, Robertson called the mayor’s office.

“A spokeswoman for the mayor said that what we meant was that this year, there would be a continuation of this years-long trend, not that this would be the first time that obesity-related deaths would outnumber underweight-related deaths, but it’s not quite clear from what he’s actually said,” Robertson said.