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Thursday, March 3, 2011

Rush Limbaugh's Giant Errors on Health

After bizarrely denouncing Michelle Obama's campaign for healthier eating, Rush Limbaugh yesterday turned to a familiar old target for his misleading attacks. Rush denounced the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) at length in a rambling, mostly incoherent tirade for criticizing movie popcorn in the 1990s and claimed, “They said it was high in polyunsaturated fat, stuff would clog you up so bad that coconut oil is what they would scrape out of you during a bypass operation.” No, the CSPI said it was high in saturated fat and calories, not “polyunsaturated fat” which is healthier.

Limbaugh claimed that a new New York Times report indicated about coconut oil “how it is one of the healthiest oils out there” in Rush's words. However, the New York Times story noted that there is no scientific proof that coconut oil is healthier. Instead, its presence in health food stores is due to its taste and its popularity among vegans as a substitute for butter.

Rush declared victory, “Once again, I, El Rushbo, ahead of the curve.” The 1994 CSPI report shocked people because it revealed the vast number of calories found in movie popcorn, and the report criticized not just coconut oil, but any kind of hydrogenated oil and the fake butter used in popcorn. Nothing about the CSPI report was inaccurate.

Rush concluded his segment, “The life expectancy is skyrocketing and people are still eating and drinking what they want, still driving SUVs. Giant See, I Told You So here.” No, a giant “Rush Is Wrong Again.” In reality, life expectancy improvement rates in the US are lagging behind other countries, despite the fact that we spend much more on health care than any other nation. A 2010 study in the journal Health Affairs noted that the US ranked 49th in the world in life expectancy, far worse than in the past.

Once again, Rush is wrong on medical issues. As I note in my new book, “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Rush Limbaugh's Assault on Reason,” Limbaugh believes himself to be an expert on health, medicine, food, and health care, despite making numerous basic errors and spewing all sorts of medical myths from “nicotine isn't addictive” to “death panels.”

Crossposted at DailyKos.

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