Green Room

A Conservative Solution to the Obesity Epidemic

posted at 10:09 am on June 15, 2012 by

I agree with Michelle Obama. Kindof. I agree that the rising levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this nation are troubling. Physical health is important to preserving a nation’s vitality. However, the progressive concept of government-led health programs (espoused by people like the First Lady and Michael Bloomberg) is not the most logical solution. If anything, it is dangerous to both our health and our freedom. Yet, it is not enough to simply criticize the liberal war on obesity. It’s important to provide an alternative. What if conservatives were in charge of combating this nation’s obesity epidemic? Then, what would our policies look like?

For liberals and progressives concerned with this nation’s health (and rightfully so), government is always the answer. Shoveling money into programs like “Let’s Move,” banning unhealthy foods, and nudging Americans into eating healthy with subtle menu changes all fit into this plan. At its core, this plan is not even about health. It’s about control and as evidenced in a 2011 study from the British Medical Journal, the liberal war against obesity does not have a drastic impact on national health. People who respond to these nanny state policies by avoiding unhealthy food (whether it’s their choice or not) are not necessarily doing so because they are concerned with health. For example, I doubt many people in New York are going to avoid buying a 64 ounce Dr. Pepper because they’re concerned with calories. They will buy a smaller size simply because the 64 ounc-er isn’t available. It’s likely that when this regulation is inevitably eliminated, New Yorkers will run towards Big Gulps once again.

You want to know the secret weapon against obesity? Well here it is: Personal responsibility.  When did we become a nation where eating well and exercising was too difficult? If eating a cheeseburger a day will make you fat, then don’t eat a cheeseburger a day. If you are unable to maintain a degree of self-control and a healthy lifestyle without the government’s help, then you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands. It’s not that I’m saying losing weight is easy. It is simply too complex to be universally covered by a one-size-fits-all government program. Some people struggle with health problems because of mental health issues. Others have hormonal imbalances. Some just simply haven’t developed a sense of self-control. Whatever the reason, the deeper issues that lead to an individual’s weight issues need to be addressed by a health professional. They cannot be alleviated by calorie counts on a menu or smaller soda sizes.

While liberals are apt to claim that big businesses and capitalistic food supplies looking for a quick profit are the cause of the nation’s obesity epidemic, I tend to disagree. Most of the health problems in this nation are driven by a cultural decline. One hundred years ago, America was not the “pleasure-seeking” nation that we are today. We have become a nation where immediate gratification is praised and people just want the “easy way out.” Many run towards a quick fix; an option our government is more than willing to provide. Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no “easy way out” when it comes to weight loss and health. It takes hard work and personal responsibility, characteristics that are less praised in our culture today. Don’t hand your freedom over to the government if you want to lose a couple pounds. It’s not worth it. It is naïve to turn to the government in search of an answer to our nation’s health crisis. Instead, look to yourself. Healthy lifestyles are propelled by internal, individual decisions. They cannot be artificially constructed by an external government program. Individual choices and personal responsibility succeed in propelling long term success. Government band-aids do not.

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Personal responsibility? The nerve! I am not smart enough to make my own choices!

Spiders from Mars on June 15, 2012 at 10:25 AM

I think it is an activity issue. People’s lifestyles have changed. We get our recreation by sitting in front of screens.

Blake on June 15, 2012 at 10:28 AM

It’s not that I’m saying losing weight is easy.

Ms. Lutz I respectfully disagree. Read this book by Gary Taubes. I recommend it to all my patients. I have dropped 30 pounds without ever being hungry. Homo sapiens seems to be the only animal on the planet that tries to maintain its weight by counting calories. This in not how the human body works! Weight loss is not hard once you understand the advice the American people have been given is wrong.
The conservative solution to obesity should be firmly rooted in evolutionary biology where it belongs.

dentalque on June 15, 2012 at 10:40 AM

The root cause of the problem (aside from well-intentioned but ill-informed politicians) is that the government is too invested in combating obesity. Why is it invested? Because of medicare/medicaid. If the government were not paying for people’s healthcare, then there would be much less motivation to dictate dietary or lifestyle choices.

This is what happens when you let the camel’s nose in the tent. Let the government (at any level, mind you) pay for something, and it will demand something in return.

Mohonri on June 15, 2012 at 11:56 AM

Conservative “solution”? Not sure this is a “problem” the nation must address. If someone choses to be obese they have that right. But they should also not expect others to pick up the tab for can pay for associated increased health care costs.

Here is my free market “solution”.

First, get rid of Obamacare. Second, pass legislation to 1) permit health insurance companies to compete across state lines in a free market and 2) decouple health insurance from employment to get employers out of the health insurance business.

Then, permit health insurance companies to charge people who are obese higher premiums, as they do now for smokers.

farsighted on June 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

But they should also not expect others to pick up the tab for can pay for associated increased health care costs.

farsighted on June 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM

I respectfully submit that the rise in American obesity has occurred concurrent with the general rise in dependence on the government.

I really think there’s something to this: the idea that we are ultimately sheltered by an all-powerful government makes us generally less determined to keep ourselves in order. We literally have no fear of not surviving if we don’t take care and exercise self-control. We think of “government” as something that has power over the exigencies of life — rather than looking at our individual selves versus nature and coming to the sensible conclusion.

Reduce dependence on government, and every bad thing that’s wrong with us today would be rolled back by a good 98%. If you don’t want people to be fat, stop sheltering them and ordering them around.

J.E. Dyer on June 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM

farsighted on June 15, 2012 at 11:58 AM

Thank you, my opinion exactly. I quit drinking, smoking, and eating whatever I damn well felt like after having my BP checked out a while ago, to find out it was at 170/110. However, I took responsibility for it (after all, who had made me drink, smoke, and eat junk to excess, hmmmmm?).

I refused medication for hypertension, determined to bring it down by myself. I prefer, however, to follow the regimen outlined by Dean Ornish. I have a degree in Nutrition, for what it’s worth, and his plan makes the most sense to me.

My BP is now down to 117/78. I am slowly losing weight, and force myself to find time to do at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week. If you don’t care enough about yourself to find a lousy 30 minutes 5 times a week, then you may as well just check out now.

However, I did this, on my own, and hopefully, nobody is going to have to pay the tab for me down the road. Medicare is probably not going to be around by the time I’m eligible for it anyways. I do not feel that I should have to pay for the health care of some fat slob who can’t get his/her couch potato a$$ off the couch and take some responsibility for their own health. I took responsibility for mine, and it didn’t take any stinking government mandates, either.

Personal Responsibility is the cure for a lot of the ills in this country, but I’m wondering just how to get people to take it. Easier to go to to the doctor and say, “gimmee a pill”.

Giving higher rates to obese people sounds like a good plan to me, but the biggest roadblock there is going to be the people (libbies) screaming about how “unfair” and “bigoted” that is against fat people. *shrug* Fat people vote too. And there’s a lot of them. Although, kind of ironic, seeing as how it’s the libbies who are trying to force gov’t food mandates on everybody.

sage0925 on June 15, 2012 at 1:03 PM

Please, no more government “solutions,” conservative or otherwise.

Missy on June 15, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Please, no more government “solutions,” conservative or otherwise.

Missy on June 15, 2012 at 1:20 PM

Amen!

Cheesestick on June 15, 2012 at 6:52 PM

It is simply too complex to be universally covered by a one-size-fits-all government program. Some people struggle with health problems because of mental health issues. Others have hormonal imbalances.

This is the money quote. If cheeseburgers/steak were outlawed, I couldn’t lose weight. I just have to pick the bun off, add a salad, and I have a good meal.

cptacek on June 16, 2012 at 12:10 AM

Losing weight is very easy, increase physical activity that burns at least 500 calories a day while simultaneously decreasing caloric intake by 500 calories a day you will lose a pound a week. unfortunately though most of you lazy fat azzes won’t do this. You’re too busy selling your retarded religious opiate like pushers and telling people how to live their lives. YOU HUMPS ARE NO DIFFERENT THEN THE LIBERALS, except for your lying rhetoric that is. Conservatives and Liberals are the problem. You losers might have the edge though since you are all fanatical religious weirdos.

Your Mamma loves me on June 16, 2012 at 9:13 AM

With all due respect…it isn’t anyone else’s business what I eat, when I eat, or how much. If I want to drink 64 oz of soda a day…well that is my choice and I hate all you nannys telling me what I can and can’t do. As long as I take responsibility for the effects of those decisions, I don’t see the problem in just letting people eat or drink whatever they want.

At the same time, we the government is right to limit gambling and illicit drug use…yeah that makes a lot of sense….

More freedom is always better….how much money will we spend protecting people from themselves until there is no more?

nazo311 on June 16, 2012 at 12:17 PM