Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Fattening of America

One of the main reasons I cling to the Boston Globe, is the op-ed section. I usually turn there first for interesting views and analyses of our world.

Today, there was a piece praising the work of a commission that came up with a long list of things our new president could do to combat our obesity epidemic. OK, the institute is based at a law school, so I suppose it shouldn't be surprising that the list of recommendations includes all kinds of programs, incentives, requirements, funding, regulations and taxes. It sounds more like a full-employment plan for lawyers than a health plan for America.

Here's a letter I sent to the Globe in response. Thanks to Michael Pollan and In Defense of Food for sharpening my thinking on this subject.

Dear Boston Globe:
Richard Daynard and Mark Gottlieb ("How to fight America's obesity epidemic," January 8.) summarize 47 recommendations from The Public Health Advocacy Institute on how to combat the shocking fattening of America. Not surprisingly, the recommendations are obese with more government programs and taxation.
One step, not mentioned by the authors, is to stop all Federal incentives and subsidies to large, corporate agribusinesses that pump us full of cheap fat, salt and sugar. Like so many things in American life today, if we had to pay the real costs of food like that, and healthy alternatives could compete on a level playing field, we would be free to make better choices.
The pervasive influence of corporate lobbying has rendered even the best intentions of government unreliable at best, downright destructive at worst. Let us keep our money and our freedom, and we'll do the right thing.

UPDATE: This letter was published in the January 18, 2009 Sunday Boston Globe on the back page of the "Ideas" (my favorite) section.


Paul said...

Have you seen the documentary "King Corn"? It's not a great video but does illustrate the problem of industrial agriculture.

MojoMan said...

Thanks for that tip, Paul! I think I heard a piece on NPR about that story. I've put it on my Netflix list.

SimplyTim said...

Here's another way to visualize the obesitizing of America

bring the graphic back to 1986 and let 'er grow!

MojoMan said...

The rapid increase in obesity as shown in those maps is utterly amazing, Tim. Obesity has increased SO rapidly in the past 20 years, I'm tempted to think it's a statistical anomaly, by my eyes tell me it may be true. I'm inclined to think federal subsidies to corn producers has a lot to do with this.

I think I'm moving to Colorado!