You know, the federal govt should really get more involved in this obesity crisis

posted at 2:43 pm on May 8, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

Yesterday, I opined on Michelle Obama’s over-before-it-even-began attempt to eliminate America’s supposed “food deserts” as a part of her Let’s Move campaign. It’s just one of the abundant examples of government nannies trying to impose the lifestyle choices that they deem best upon others, and their efforts reliably going awry. Whether it’s insisting on healthier school lunches and unintentionally creating black markets in Cheetos, or hoping to control people’s behavior with sin taxes: people just don’t like being told what to do, and will go to great lengths to preserve their options.

But the nannies are not to be deterred. As a part of the Weight of the Nation conference, three days of Centers for Disease Control meetings covering obesity, a panel spoke on the Institute of Medicine’s nearly 500-page new report outlining sweeping policy changes that the government should adopt in order to ‘stave off a healthcare crisis‘ — because according to the report, 42 percent of Americans will be obese by 2030.

The changes are aimed at a complete overhaul of the United States’ “obesogenic” environment, the panel wrote.

“People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for years, and during that time a large number of Americans have become obese,” panelist Shriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania said…

“The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment,” she Kumanyika said.

Strategies like a possible soda tax and new zoning laws to encourage walking and biking are designed to “reinforce one another’s impact to speed our progress,” said panel chairman Dan Glickman, a former Secretary of Agriculture. …

“Obesity is both an individual and societal concern,” said IOM President Harvey V. Fineberg in a statement, “and it will take action from all of us — individuals, communities and the nation as a whole — to achieve a healthier society.”

This is one of the most fundamental difficulties with the advent of legislative socio-economic interventions like ObamaCare: what should not be a governmental concern, becomes one. A person’s individual health should be their own private business and personal responsibility, but apparently, the “average person” just isn’t capable of taking ownership of their own decisions. Since with ObamaCare their healthcare costs can now be transferred to society as a whole, Big Brother gets to step in and tell everyone what to do — always remember, it’s for your own good.

I’m not saying there’s anything inherently bad about wishing people would take greater care and responsibility with their health. I’m just saying there’s a lot that’s woefully misguided about trying to arrange by fiat the bicycling, granola-crunching utopia of your wildest dreams — especially since it provides such a ready-made excuse for furthering government power. For example, were these nanny-staters interested in rolling back government policies that, operating under the noble guise of serving public interest, actually caused extremely damaging secondary effects? Nope:

The IOM committee also grappled with one of the third rails of American politics: farm policy. Price-support programs for wheat, cotton and other commodity crops prohibit participating farmers from planting fruits and vegetables on land enrolled in those programs. Partly as a result, U.S. farms do not produce enough fresh produce for all Americans to eat the recommended amounts, and the IOM panel calls for removing that ban.

The committee did not endorse the call by food activist Michael Pollan and others to eliminate farm subsidies that make high-fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and other obesity-promoting foods very cheap. “There is no evidence subsidies contribute to obesity,” said Glickman.

Hmm. How convenient.

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As a responsible conservative… it pains me to see comments not thot out…
eg… The obese person hurts themselves…but… also me … as … the collective me will pay extra for doctors and medical services as their bad health co$t$ over time…
Thus…what’s wrong with a person in an influential place (Mrs. Obama for instance)… waging a campaign to get people/kids/all of us to eat better…
The author’s argument for “personal responsibility” etc etc… does not meet and/or pass any logic test…

tip on May 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

tip on May 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

Talk about not thought out.

The whole point is that it it isn’t the governments business if you are fat, because it isn’t the government’s business to be involved in any way in providing or caring for that healthcare in the first place.

“Responsible Conservative” Yeah, I believe that one.

LegendHasIt on May 8, 2012 at 9:03 PM


Talk about not thought out… That is supposed to be paying, not caring.


LegendHasIt on May 8, 2012 at 9:39 PM

Maybe tip can get a job as a guard diet monitor in one of the De-concentration Camps?

andycanuck on May 8, 2012 at 10:49 PM

So you quote one study, based off costs from the Netherlands which only lists 3 categories of people, uses BMI, which has “assumes” for it’s first 3 scenarios and lists multiple times how it ignores a lot of scenarios…and that was just from a quick scan of the study. And from that everyone who says the obese or smokers cost more deserve to be mocked? Riiight…

nextgen_repub on May 8, 2012 at 5:48 PM

Ok, so we’ll use your study… oh, you didn’t link one. Well that’s a shame, when you decide to discard mine, you should at least do me the honor of showing me a better, properly done, properly sourced, and more accurate one so I could see what you thought was sufficient for data.

Well lets see if we can find one you feel more suited to accept.

Here’s a more recent one, which focuses on racial differences in the US, and Medicare. And it doesn’t claim savings as the other one does, so you can feel happier that it doesn’t give the results you didn’t liek as well.

And you’re right, for a lifetime view; it goes positive not negative for obesity in most cases. Ranging from $-3,790 to $29,460 for total costs taking shorter lifespan into account.

However, it still doesn’t bother to mention Social Security. We do still pay Social Security, right? That does affect governemtn expenditures, and raises the costs we’re trying to lower… if we didn’t have that cost we’d have more for other things.

So all you’ll need to do in order to use this study’s result to prove higher obesity costs is claim that the extra year(s) that fit people live won’t cause them to take $30,000 or more in extra Social Security payments.

The average social security payout for an American worker in 2012 is $1230/month. Even the worst case scenario here won’t cover 24 months at that rate before you go into losing and not saving money.

** I assume the SSA governemtn website is accurate enough for you? I didn’t bother to check their methodology on stating that average number; so I’ll understand if you have more qualms here.

Now this does require you to think that obesity isn’t a killer, doesn’t shorten a person’s lifespan significantly, and that even the study’s “Obese III” category isn’t that problematic, certainly not 2 years worth.

Which means you’d have to argue that we must fight it BECAUSE it doesn’t significantly shorten someone’s life… which will be an odd argument to be sure.

I think you’ll probably want to find a 3rd study rather than accepting this one. Maybe you’d care to link one this time instead of avoid any data points in your argument?

gekkobear on May 8, 2012 at 11:14 PM

Marcola on May 8, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Dude. You don’t have to SHOUT *and* yell simultaneously.

GWB on May 9, 2012 at 9:46 AM