Paying to publish blog posts to attack public health
advocates is to be expected, given the industries involved,
says Prof Boyd Swinburn, an obesity authority who will speak in
Prof Swinburn, professor of population nutrition and global
health at the University of Auckland, said his only surprise
from the new book Dirty Politics is that the National
Party appeared to be deploying the same tactics as the
multinational firms that push tobacco, junk food and alcohol.
Shortly after arriving in Dunedin yesterday, Prof Swinburn
was asked for comment on Nicky Hager's book in which it is
claimed there are commercial blog posts published on the
Whale Oil blog.
The Whale Oil blog's criticism of public health advocates,
who are frequently termed ''troughers'', was ''toxic
rubbish'', Prof Swinburn said.
University of Otago health systems authority Prof Robin
Gauld, who was criticised last November in a Whale Oil post
for suggesting New Zealand should consider following the
United States in banning trans fats, said he thought of such
blogs as ''Fox News'' and did not let them interfere with his
role as a critic and conscience of society.
The post accused Prof Gauld of having little consideration
for New Zealand's economy.
Unlike professors Gauld and Swinburn, University of Otago
Christchurch National Addiction Centre director Prof Doug
Sellman was included in Dirty Politics as having been
the subject of a commercial post published on the blog.
Last week he said he had not had time to read the book, and
yesterday he could not be contacted.
Contacted for comment, the University of Otago released a
''With the stream of claims and counter-claims about the book
it is currently difficult to determine what is factual and
what are value judgements.
"If there is a case the university will work with staff,'' a
university spokeswoman said.
Prof Swinburn is speaking at Otago Museum as part of the 10th
anniversary celebrations of Edgar Diabetes and Obesity
His talk will examine the role of research in public health
policy-making, and the politics it involves.