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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