War on Fat Expands, so does Big Government and Corporate Profits
Obesity has been a big issue in America for decades. By now we are all too familiar with anonymous burger bites and faceless midsections that waddle across the television screen. America is getting larger than ever, in an increasingly collectivized economy costs are passed on to unsuspecting consumers and the American taxpayer is ultimately left to carry the load.
Our lifestyle and dietary choices are changing our culture dramatically and politicians, regulators and corporations are only more than willing to provide their infamous assistance.
How many dire reports is America away from this sad human dystopia becoming a headline?
According to Reuters:
The percentage of Americans who are obese (with a BMI of 30 or higher) has tripled since 1960, to 34 percent, while the incidence of extreme or “morbid” obesity (BMI above 40) has risen sixfold, to 6 percent. The percentage of overweight Americans (BMI of 25 to 29.9) has held steady: It was 34 percent in 2008 and 32 percent in 1961.
Aside from the slight problem that body mass indexing is biased to favor men who tend to have more muscle than women you get the picture – the fat are getting fatter. Thing is those who are simply overweight is essentially the same, which means that the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) and those who are attempting to “end size discrimination” can rest easy. Being a plus-sized person is not what is incurring all the cost or opprobrium it’s the obese and morbidly so of our society that are weighing the rest of us down.
Medical expenditures due to obesity once thought to be onerous are now anticipated to be twice as large and purportedly cost America more than smoking. How is that for a truth commercial? Medicare and Medicaid are anticipated to see massive increase in costs, U.S. hospitals are retrofitting toilets, the Federal Transit Administration wants buses to be tested for heavier riders, bigger trains are being ordered, stadiums feature larger seats and cars are burning more gas. American businesses also suffer from lost productivity and absenteeism. The worst of all the bigger we get the more pills we gobble up.
One would think natural selection would just weed out the unfit, as it were, but on the contrary the medical establishment has succeeded enormously at keeping people fat, sick and almost dead for years. While this attrition would, according to Cornell economists John Cawley and Chad Meyerhoefer, save America trillions of dollars in social security, private pensions and Medicare expenses pharmacists and doctors provide an ample diet of “beta blockers for heart disease, diabetes drugs, and other treatments keeping those obese alive longer.” But is this reason to for public health paternalism we’ve seen in recent years?
Literally Owning the Argument
There are obvious ways to end obesity like regular and vigorous exercise or just actively enjoying the outdoors combined with following a nutrition focused diet versus merely counting calories. There are those, however, who wish to promote a paradigm centered on public policy and big business while feigning altruistic motives. More often than not these dubious interests operate at the expense of personal responsibility.
Ostensibly concerned about the exploding costs of obesity in America Reuters quotes Michael O’Grady of the National Opinion Research Center, co-author of a new report for the Campaign to End Obesity (CTEO):
As committee chairmen, Cabinet secretaries, the head of Medicare and health officials see these really high costs, they are more interested in knowing, ‘what policy knob can I turn to stop this hemorrhage?’
To be sure, that is all CTEO is concerned about – government solutions. If public policy makers are unwilling to allow American families to plan for themselves and allow for a culture where unhealthy lifestyles are not economically or socially feasible, CTEO is merely riding the federal bandwagon. They admit as much:
The Campaign to End Obesity Action Fund is dedicated to federal policy changes that can reverse one of America’s costliest diseases. The Campaign convenes leaders from industry, academia, public health and associations to speak with one voice for measures to reverse the obesity epidemic and promote healthy weight in children and adults. [Editor’s emphasis added]
CTEO may call obesity a “disease,” something defined as distinct from physical injury, but in reality millions of Americans are injuring themselves on a daily basis by inundating their systems with processed foods, refined sugar and nutrient deficient fast food meals. You can prevent injury – they would rather treat the disease. The cost is what they’re trying to control not necessarily reduce through the CTEO.
Think about it. If one can steer public policy and therefore predict with better accuracy the allocation of funds, research, influence the easier it is to make sound business decisions. In an era where laws are unknowable from one day to the next you can almost sympathize. After a quick review of the Campaign to End Obesity’s board of directors it’s not hard to see some conflicts of interest.
CTEO embraces “obesity legislation” with brilliant names like “The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act,” “Healthy Kids Outdoor Act,” “Healthy Lifestyles and Prevention (HELP) America Act” and of course the well known mammoth of legislation the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obama Care. While Obama Care allows employers to charge obese workers 30% to 50% more for health coverage if they decline to participate in a qualified wellness program this is a perfect example of the ruse.
Responsible business practice would dictate the same if not higher costs forcing unscrupulous couch potatoes and fast food fanatics to weigh their values with prudence in mind – health or hedonism? Should the aforementioned chose the latter one of two things will happen higher premiums or no coverage. With Obama Care we are unfortunately forced to subsidize risky lifestyles.
The Other Subsidy
That was for the people who can help it, otherwise there are those Americans who of course are disproportionally effected by the absence of real nutritious food. The biggest distortion and that which is wholly unaffected by every “HELP U.S. Kids be Safe and Healthy and Smart Act” passed by Congress and promoted by CTEO is farm subsidies, sugar tariffs, and quotas for the corn industry.
High fructose corn syrup (HFCS) has taken a PR pounding in recent years and for good reason – it’s cheaper than it otherwise would be. While the specific health ramifications of GMO HFCS versus the organic stuff is meted out elsewhere we can rely on the fact “corn sugar” – as it shall henceforth be known – is ubiquitous. In and of itself it’s purportedly harmless, but it makes its way into nearly everything we eat: yogurt, condiments, beverages, energy bars, frozen fruits and baked goods.
Add this to the fact people are by there very nature attracted to salt, fat and sugar and are perpetually seeking to do the least amount of work to get it makes for a bad situation. Subsidizing everything else including our resolve to pursue the opposite isn’t going to fix anything besides fatten pharmaceutical companies, lobbyists and their politicians.