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A charity walk is a charity walk is a charity walk ... right?

May 19, 2009 | 11:58 am

We frequently receive pitches for marathons, 10K runs, triathlons and walks to raise money and awareness for various charitable organizations. But a recent press release caught our eye. It read: "Please, Don’t Let Them Die Without Saying A Word."

Hmmm.... OK. Then we read further:

"You Report The News for a Living.... Don't You? So, why don't you say something? Would you say something if a loved one was abusing themselves as a smoker, a drug user or addict? YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND YOU NEED TO SPEAK UP!" (Emphasis theirs).

Kj5rpjnc The pitch was for an upcoming fund-raising walk called The Walk From Obesity. Or, as the press release put it, "The Walk From Obesity To Raise Awareness In Memorial of Obesity Related Deaths." We read the attached release, which provided copious stats about the effects of being severely overweight.

It said the walk was to help the ASMBS & OAC "raise funds and awareness of the prevention and treatment of obesity and to help stop Obesity, save lives and save U.S. taxpayers billions, too."

Sounds good, right? But just who are the ASMBS & OAC? The release offered no information, so we checked the website, which said funds raised will support "the ASMBS Foundation and its research and professional education initiatives and also support the patient and general public educational and advocacy programs of the Obesity Action Coalition."

It went on to say, "In 1997, members of the American Society for Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery, the largest society for this specialized branch of medicine in the world, formed the ASMBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to raising funds to help support obesity research and to increase professional and public awareness of bariatric surgery and its role in treating the devastating disease of morbid obesity." (Emphasis ours).

Among the sponsors of the events (there are other walks in various parts of the country) are the pharmaceutical company Allergan, Bariatric Advantage Nutritional Supplments, and Sizewise, makers of bariatric medical equipment.

No doubt bariatric surgery has helped many people whose health would have been severely compromised without it. And while it’s great to walk, it’s important to know for whom you're walking.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Greg Wood / AFP/Getty Images