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Gov’t Study: No Personal Blame In Obesity

From a straight-faced Reuters:

Obesity fight must shift from personal blame: U.S. panel

By Sharon Begley
May 8, 2012

NEW YORK (Reuters) – America’s obesity epidemic is so deeply rooted that it will take dramatic and systemic measures – from overhauling farm policies and zoning laws to, possibly, introducing a soda tax – to fix it, the influential Institute of Medicine said on Tuesday.

"Zoning laws"? Are people getting so fat they are affecting "zoning laws"?

In an ambitious 478-page report, the IOM refutes the idea that obesity is largely the result of a lack of willpower on the part of individuals.

In other words, personal responsibility is out the window. They have to a way to blame society.

Instead, it embraces policy proposals that have met with stiff resistance from the food industry and lawmakers, arguing that multiple strategies will be needed to make the U.S. environment less "obesogenic."

The IOM, part of the National Academies, offers advice to the government and others on health issues. Its report was released at the Weight of the Nation conference, a three-day meeting hosted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cable channel HBO will air a documentary of the same name next week.

"The Weight of the Nation conference." Sheesh.

"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," committee member Shiriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine told Reuters. "That advice will never be out of date. But when you see the increase in obesity you ask, what changed? And the answer is, the environment. The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment."

So the environment is making people fat. (And we aren’t even talking about global warming, for once.)

Is the environment making people sit more, drive more, walk less, eat more, are less active than they used to be a generation ago?

A study funded by the CDC and released on Monday projected that by 2030, 42 percent of American adults will be obese, compared to 34 percent today and 11 percent will be severely obese, compared to 6 percent today

Officials at the IOM and CDC are trying to address the societal factors that led the percentage of obese adults to more than double since 1980, when it was 15 percent. Among children, it has soared from 5 to 17 percent in the past 30 years. One reason: in 1977, children 2 to 18 consumed an average of 1,842 calories per day. By 2006, that had climbed to 2,022.

What "environment" made children consume more calories?

Obesity is responsible for an additional $190 billion a year in healthcare costs, or one-fifth of all healthcare spending, Reuters reported last month, plus billions more in higher health insurance premiums, lost productivity and absenteeism.

The IOM panel included members from academia, government, and the private sector. It scrutinized some 800 programs and interventions to identify those that can significantly reduce the incidence of obesity within 10 years.

We thought ‘dietary manipulation’ was torture, which is banned by the Geneva Convention?

"There has been a tendency to look for a single solution, like putting a big tax on soda or banning marketing (of unhealthy food) to children," panel chairman Dan Glickman, a senior fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center and a former secretary of the Department of Agriculture, told Reuters. "What this report says is this is not a one-solution problem."

Especially, when you refuse to hold people responsible for their own diets.

The panel identifies taxing sugar-sweetened beverages as a "potential action," noting that "their link to obesity is stronger than that observed for any other food or beverage." …

They want to tax food.

The 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

That is preposterous. US supermarkets have far more produce in them than they had even just ten years ago. And, as we noted a couple of weeks ago, the idea of "food deserts" in poor areas is also a myth.

The traditional view that blames obesity on a failure of personal responsibility and individual willpower "has been used as the basis for resisting government efforts — legislative and regulatory — to address the problem," says the report. But the IOM panel argues that people cannot truly exercise "personal choice" because their options are severely limited, and "biased toward the unhealthy end of the continuum."

Ever notice how people descend into gibberish when they have to argue absurd positions?

For instance, a lack of sidewalks makes it impossible to safely walk to work, school or even neighbors’ homes in many communities. So while 20 percent of trips between school and home among kids 5 to 15 were on foot in 1977, that had dropped to 12.5 percent by 2001.

Because of a lack of sidewalks?! Now we have heard everything. By the way, how come kids who live in rural areas are thinner than those who live in cities?

The panel therefore recommended tax incentives for developers to build sidewalks and trails in new housing developments, zoning changes to require pedestrian access and policies to promote bicycle commuting. Flexible financing, and streamlined permitting or tax credits could be used as encouragement.

What a break for the unions who will take all of these ‘shovel ready jobs."

The IOM report also calls for making schools the focus of anti-obesity efforts, since preventing obesity at a young age is easier than reversing it. According to the most recent data, only 4 percent of elementary schools, 8 percent of middle schools and 2 percent of high schools provided daily physical education for all students.

The IOM report recommends requiring primary and secondary schools to have at least 60 minutes of physical education and activity each day. It calls for banning sugar-sweetened drinks in schools and making drinking water freely available.

What a break for the teachers unions, who will have to hire more gym teachers.

The report also urges that healthy food and drinks be easily available everywhere Americans eat, from shopping centers to sports facilities and chain restaurants. The idea is that more people will eat healthier if little active choice is needed…

Healthy food has never been more available than it is today. And we see the results.

"We’ve taken fat and sugar, put it in everything everywhere, and made it socially acceptable to eat all the time," David Kessler, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters. He was not part of the IOM panel.

"We’re living in a food carnival, constantly bombarded by food cues, almost all of them unhealthy," Kessler said.

Experience has shown that when businesses offer consumers a full range of choices – and especially when the healthy option is the default – many customers will opt for salads over deep-fried everything.

Walt Disney Co., for instance, found more than 50 percent of customers accepted a healthier choice of foods introduced at its theme parks. And last summer, fast-food giant McDonald’s Corp said it would include apples, fewer fries, and 20 percent fewer calories in the most popular Happy Meals for kids.

The IOM report urges employers and insurers to do more to combat obesity. UnitedHealth Group offers a health insurance plan in which a $5,000 yearly deductible can be reduced to $1,000 if a person is not obese and does not smoke. Some employers provide discounts on premiums for completing weight-loss programs.

Such inducements are far from universal, however. Medicaid for the poor does not cover weight-loss programs in many states. And as of 2008, only 28 percent of full-time workers in the private sector and 54 percent in government had access to wellness programs.

How are people supposed to lose weight unless they get free weight loss programs?

As we have said before, it is a tenet of the Democrat Party that personal responsibility is what the government is supposed to do for you. And this study just proves it.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Tuesday, May 8th, 2012. Comments are currently closed.

6 Responses to “Gov’t Study: No Personal Blame In Obesity”

  1. What planet are these people living on? They can’t make it all the way through a single thought without subverting their own rhetoric. Children are starving because they only get 3 meals a day at school, yet there are more fat people in the country because there isn’t enough food.

    • Nobody’s responsible for anything in the ‘progressive’ Utopia. We’re all victims, don’t you see? The trial lawyers will win personal injury cases for all of us!

      Huge government can take care of everybody!

      The EU is failing because there’s not enough government control!

  2. JohnMG

    …..”Is the environment making people sit more, drive more, walk less, eat more, are less active than they used to be a generation ago?…..”

    A generation ago I was 20 years younger. Could that account for my being less active? :-)

  3. AcornsRNutz

    I just polished off a fast food cheeseburger with a bucket of coke and am now working through my last chew from a can of copenaghen long cut, all while eagerly antitipating a rare steak and a few Buds (no lights here, we’re talking the calorie laden, preservative filled American brain grenades) when I get home. I sure wish someone would come take all this away from me so I don’t end up costing the government a bunch of obamacare money.

  4. Anonymoose

    “We’ve taken fat and sugar, put it in everything everywhere, and made it socially acceptable to eat all the time,” David Kessler, former head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, told Reuters. He was not part of the IOM panel.

    “We’re living in a food carnival, constantly bombarded by food cues, almost all of them unhealthy,” Kessler said.

    Yes, eating is bad. We shouldn’t eat that much…..matter of fact we shouldn’t anymore than the poorest people in the world so they won’t feel bad by comparison. Also, we can’t control ourselves so we have to rezone the world, do away with farms, and legislate until there’s no tomorrow to “cure” us of obesity.

  5. canary

    BBC’s article to trick us arthritis will double because they spin the context to appear obesity causes arthritis when they know they’ve twisted this one.

    BBC: Arthritis cases ‘set to double to over 17m by 2030′

    A report by the charity Arthritis Care says the predicted rise is down to the UK’s ageing population and growing obesity problem.

    The charity is urging government to plan ahead for this “tsunami of pain”.

    The exact cause is not known, but anything that puts stress and strain on the joints – including obesity – can play a part.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-17995938#




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