Why obesity should concern conservatives

Does it really matter how many ribs Michelle Obama ate on her vacation? For too many conservatives, the answer seems to be yes, with pundits poking fun at the anti-obesity guru’s dinner choice. But conservatives need to give it a rest: many seem to prefer scoring easy points against the First Lady to arguing about the best way to attack the obesity epidemic — and some even claim that obesity isn’t really a problem.

Conservatives, though, should be concerned about obesity for five reasons.

Fat is fiscal. Obesity and resulting illnesses are a major cause of rising costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance–now consuming ten cents of every health dollar spent.

Obesity affects national security, since thousands of recruits are turned away from military service because of failed physicals and poor overall health.

Obesity is a drag on America’s competitiveness: it’s now one of the leading causes of disability in the workforce.

Obesity contributes to government waste: at a time of record deficits, taxpayers are still on the hook as Congress continues to subsidize profitable agribusinesses that produce unhealthy foods.

Finally, obesity undermines the American dream, since the condition leads to a range of health woes that shorten the lifespan of millions of decent Americans who deserve better.

Some conservatives claim that none of this is a problem because obesity rates may have stabilized. Yet obesity isn’t the same kind of problem as say, climate change, which is mostly an issue of what may happen in the future.

Suppose the temperature stays roughly the same over the next decade. If that happens, global warming critics will ask why temperatures haven’t gotten warmer, while the rest of us enjoy the reprieve. But obesity isn’t like that; the epidemic is here and now. Even if obesity rates don’t get any worse, medically speaking, obesity is already far too common.

Even with a stable obesity rate, health risks and financial consequences remain for the millions of people who are obese, year in and year out. By one recent estimate, if all other factors are held equal, a person who’s bearing more weight than the human body was designed to carry will cost America’s health-care system over one-third more each year than a non-obese patient.

In economic terms, that’s the price taxpayers and employers will pay every year to treat a condition that’s usually preventable–the price of treating diabetes and heart disease, of replacing knees and hips, and so on. A Duke University study estimates that obesity’s direct cost to employers is over $73 billion a year, over and above the billions in rising public health-insurance costs.

American freedom is inspirational because it helps people make better choices. Conservatives defend freedom because, the thinking goes, people will do the right thing more sincerely and more consistently if they choose to do so themselves.

Personal health shouldn’t be an exception to that ideal. The obesity issue offers us a chance to prove that individuals can cut health-care costs without heavy-handed government intervention–if only people could be motivated to be more responsible about their own health.

Millions have done so already, in the best American tradition of individual action. Some were inspired by the examples set by political leaders – like former Governor Mike Huckabee, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, and Newark Mayor Cory Booker.

This isn’t an endorsement of various bad ideas touted by the left. Rather, it’s a call to arms: conservatives should criticize those ideas, rather than deny the obesity issue in the first place.

After all, it’s conservative to ask individuals to take better care of themselves. They’ll never do that, though, if they spend their time harping on Michelle Obama’s occasional baby-back indulgence.

David Gratzer is a physician and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is author of The Cure: How Capitalism Can Save American Health Care.

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  • http://www.hoppermedicine.com Bruce Hopper Jr MD

    Obesity is a cash cow for agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, hospitals, insurance, medical device manufacturers, etc.

    Every time there is a cheap, gov-subsidized corn/soy based “food” choice, the marketing promise of an anti-obesity pill, a hospitalization and/or hospital-based procedure and diagnostic study tied to a facility fee, and the latest technological device, these industries profit and win.

    We should not be the least bit surprised with these problems we are facing. Our healthcare system is flawlessly working exactly as it’s been designed.

    There are financial winners and losers in this system, and the “winners” have no incentive whatsoever to change how “business” is currently conducted.

  • Frank in L.A.

    Surely Dr. Gratzer could find something better to do (ie. better from the anti-obesity standpoint) than to blame conservatives for the bad press that Michelle Obama recently received when she was observed eating a hamburger and fries at a fast food establishment.

    Every President, every First Lady, every politician has problems with their image as perceived by the press. Democrats, Republicans, liberals, conservatives, Tea Party supporters, Moveon.org supporters, they all feel, often justifiably so, that the press doesn’t treat them well. After all reporters need to report something if they want to keep their jobs.

    Dr. Gratzer needs to realize that the publicity about the hamburger is of no real consequence, and that blaming that publicity on conservative (or liberal) pundits is hardly worth anyone’s time. Give me a break!

  • Freeflow

    The government is not your mother.

    • Family Medicine Doctor

      Dear Freeflow,

      Agreed. The government is certainly not our mother. But the taxpayer isn’t the sugar daddy, either. Obese citizens consume a significant amount more of our taxes in healthcare dollars than non-obese citizens. Why should I, who am healthy & trim, financially support obese citizens lifestyle choices? Conservatives are all about “freedom”, but in this example it supports obesity, illness, disability, & therefore higher taxes. What is so wrong with a public health awareness campaign from the First Lady to encourage better food choices & increased exercise? The more we talk about the obesity epidemic & ways to change it, the more citizens will actually lose the weight.

      The direct & indirect costs on society from obesity is financially crushing us. What is so “free” about higher taxes from increased healthcare costs caused by the obese? Conservatives have an odd way of promoting their quest for smaller government & lower taxes.

      • http://EasyOpinions.blogspot.com/ Andrew_M_Garland

        To Family Medicine Doctor,

        You wrote: “The more we talk about the obesity epidemic & ways to change it, the more citizens will actually lose the weight.”

        Why do you conclude that? Obesity has been a public topic for 10+ years. Has that worked? You recommend expensive public programs to talk people into health. What is the evidence that that works?

        If we mandated that family doctors give a 6 minute presentation to each fat patient, would health improve in an efficient way? Or, would that be a an almost useless expense that further strains the health system?

      • Donna

        “Why should I, who am healthy & trim, financially support obese citizens lifestyle choices?”

        Obesity can be a lot more complex than “lifestyle choices”. Surely a doctor would know better.

        • Family Medicine Doctor

          Dear Donna,

          Actually, being a doctor has taught me that for most, obesity has been a lifestyle choice. Most, not all, people who struggle w obesity refuse to eat correctly & exercise. It’s amazing what can happen when someone exchanges a poor diet to a healthy one, & no exercise lifestyle to 30 min of just non-stop walking 5x/wk.

          Most people(notice how I said most & not all) who are obese, and remember I’m a board certified primary care physician, are not due to medical conditions but due to poor diet & no exercise. I see this everyday.

  • http://frugalpharmacies.com Emily

    The government may not be your mother, but what it does or doesn’t do relative to this problem certainly matters. If the government subsidizes certain foods or plans cities that have little room for transportation options beyond cars, cuts physical education programs, etc. then yes it does matter.

    Reasonable conservatives have very little to be upset about in regards to Michelle Obama. The nutty ones will manufacture reasons regardless of facts or logic.

  • http://EasyOpinions.blogspot.com/ Andrew_M_Garland

    Dr. Gratzer,

    Yes. Like you, I am against obesity, against disease, and for health and exercise. I am also for Mom, apple pie, and the American Way.

    You write “if only people could be motivated to be more responsible about their own health”. If only.

    Maybe, if people could buy health insurance that was less expensive for the non-obese, they would have an incentive to be slim. But, medical insurance is moving more toward one size fits all, take it (and you can’t leave it).

    You have taken a strong interest in the obesity epidemic. Your action here is to label “conservatives” as being unduly critical of Michelle Obama. Call me conservative if you wish, but what part of her program is going to be effective, from your studies? She doesn’t avoid all comfort foods, nor should she. But she preaches social change in eating, along with expensive government programs.

    What part of those programs is going to work, at what cost? Has any of it worked before? Is it the proper function of government to shame people into new behavior? Can they be shamed into eating less? Does it harm children to shame them about their childhood weight? Will tasty recipes for broccoli help?

    In short, from your studies, what has worked and what do you want government to do?

    My guess is that many children are bored silly by the sedentary constraints placed upon them. Instead of independent play outdoors, bicycling here and there, lightly or unsupervised, they are tied to the constant supervision of their parents, indoors. Schools have removed most outdoor play equipment which was fun, and schools even restrict tag and running to reduce accidents. Fewer children are injured or die from accidents (I think), and more get fat to die earlier as adults. That is a tradeoff that I object to, for many reasons other than childhood weight.

    • ElleCB

      But if we offered children more time to burn off that energy with recess and PE, then we wouldn’t have to medicate as many of them to stay in their seats…by God we can’t have that!

  • http://Www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

    Considering it is liberals bringing the healthy change to school cafeterias…one school even banning mom’s from packing lunches…this article came off as partisan sour grapes. Jon Stewart pokes fun at this stuff and conservative he isn’t. Michelle OBama enjoys Five Guys, ribs…so what….if her cause was not obesity. Some consistency in the message would be nice….turning this into a blame game to label the tattler who told on the diabetic stealing cookies from the cookie jar…….so was the photographer a conservative? Only conservatives posted the picture? Just sounds like more pork:)

  • http://www.beautybybuford.com Gregory A. Buford, MD FACS

    Great article but I need to add that it should not only be conservatives concerned about both the short and long-term effects of obesity, but also liberals. I find it interesting that the current administration has done nothing to address childhood obesity other than have the First Lady make a few comments. On the other hand, Obama himself placed a tax on tanning beds which I find interesting since, even though this is certainly a health risk, it’s positive implications are far less than would be accomplished by actually addressing why and to what magnitude the American Diet and fast food are contributing to the rapid increase in childhood obesity.

    Just a thought.

  • http://utilimed.wordpress.com Don Peterson

    Making a point about Michelle Obama’s diet is a conservative’s way of pointing out that her message must be supported by her behavior to be credible. Much like her husband’s proclivity for smoking or golf. Conservatives like golf, they just don’t like seeing Obama golfing while the country is facing a fiscal crisis.

    I don’t buy for second the notion that conservatives broadly deny the obesity problem in America. I’m a conservative and I don’t deny it. Libertarian conservative may universally agree that government has no role in dictating what we eat but even they will not deny the epidemic of obesity in our country. People left to their own devices should do the right thing but then so should politicians, doctors and lawyers. Yet, we as a nation spend vast amounts of money making rules for each of these otherwise noble professions so that they don’t make a wrong decision sometimes.

    As a conservative I offer this solution to the obesity problem: offer citizens a tax credit for being healthy. Have doctors get involved in keeping patients healthy by offering to pay for an annual exam that measures certain factors that indicate reasonably good health: A BMI adjusted for body-type, non-smoker, cardiac and pulmonary capacity based on age and overall health…you know, like the health-age they do on the Biggest Loser. Each tax-payer receives a tax credit and their dependents receive a like amount for having a healthy score. To support the deployment of this program, make all healthy foods sales-tax exempt. Quinoa is 10X the cost of white rice…like green tech, if the government wants to keep farm subsidies, that’s where they need to be targeted.

    We must stop obesity where it starts, with the children. But educating children about nutrition is like teaching them safe driving skills when they’re 7 years old. Kids don’t decide what they’re eating for dinner. A healthy tax credit would help solve that problem. The credit itself will be a mere fraction of the costs that would come later from a lifetime of obesity.

    Liberals will call this tax credit a “fat” tax and the ACLU will have a field day. So then, who will be the problem, conservatives, liberals, or our society’s unwillingness to accept responsibility for its fate?

  • Joanne

    This is more than a liberal conservative issue. It’s all Americans. Obesity should be frowned upon, like smoking. The smokers are out behind dumpsters. Liberals have removed PE class from schools, put it back. Parents have allowed TV/Video games to be baby sitters, get the kids outside and play with them. Parents pick up fast food or eat out…cook for your family. It goes way beyond politics. We are a fat society allowing our children to become fatter still and it is a society problem, not political.

  • http://Www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

    How about we get tough and not only clean up school lunches…but remove teeth rotting pop, twinkles, and potato chips from food stamp purchases? Make them wear GPS pedometers and track their mileage walked daily…..even tracking what they read to make sure our tax dollars produce fit liberals that make the NEA proud…but let’s have a beta test on the teachers first:)

  • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

    Can anyone supply me with solid evidence that obese people cost the medical system more than thin people. When you’re done with that, please supply a rational explanation of why healthy overweight people should pay more than unhealthy thin people. You do realize that there are thin people who eat poorly, smoke, drink, do drugs, fail to exercise and engage in high risk behaviors, while there are plenty of “obese” people who do none of these things.

    Apparently, being thin is prima facie evidence of moral rectitude and responsibility, while obesity is evidence of moral degeneracy and irresponsibility.

    Ignore facts and basic humanity in favor of judging people and punishing them based on ignorance and misanthropy: the conservative “solution” to every problem.

    • Family Medicine Doctor

      Dear Payne Hurtz,

      The relationship between obesity, disease, & increased costs have been established for years. No one needs to “supply” you with anything. Feel free to remain in ignorance, but shouldn’t you do the medical literature search if you are that interested?

      You wrote, ” You do realize that there are thin people who eat poorly, smoke, drink, do drugs, fail to exercise and engage in high risk behaviors, while there are plenty of “obese” people who do none of these things.”
      Of course I realize this. Everyone does. But this was a discussion on obesity, wasn’t it?

      • http://paynehertz.blogspot.com Payne Hertz

        Judging from your comment that obesity is a “lifestyle choice” you’re in no position to be calling anyone ignorant. You claim the relationship between obesity, disease and increased costs has been “established for years” but the fact is I am aware of very little research actually supporting this claim, and a lot that refutes it. This is why I asked for evidence. As always, I see a lot of medical folklore in the comments section here and I get attacked for calling people on it.

        If you wish to make your point to those who are impressed with your credentials then your uninformed assertions are fine. If you wish to make an impression on those of us who think and weigh the evidence before forming our opinions, you need to present some facts.

        I would suggest you read the following article and its references do some research of your own. Most of the claims about obesity don’t stand up to scrutiny and seem to be motivated more by the usual politics, moral judgmentalism and misanthropy that plagues our medical system than reality.

        http://ije.oxfordjournals.org/content/35/1/55.full

        This article evaluates four central claims made by those who are calling for intensifying the war on fat: that obesity is an epidemic; that overweight and obesity are major contributors to mortality; that higher than average adiposity is pathological and a primary direct cause of disease; and that significant long-term weight loss is both medically beneficial and a practical goal. Given the limited scientific evidence for any of these claims, we suggest that the current rhetoric about an obesity-driven health crisis is being driven more by cultural and political factors than by any threat increasing body weight may pose to public health.

        There are even many studies that show a higher incidence of premature mortality among the “normal” weight population than among the “obese.”

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/05/090518172654.htm

        http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-op-dustup20sep20,0,5487871.story

      • Ross

        Dear Family Medicine Doc,
        Sounds like Payne Hurtz’s comments got to you a little bit…interesting. Perhaps you have some contempt for your overweight or obese patients. Anyhoo, you must face facts, Payne has a valid point in that whether a patient is overweight/obese or of normal weight, this is not exclusive from all other medical issues that a person may have. I see absolutely no reason for a healthy overweight/obese person to pay more than a healthy normal weight person, all other risk factors being considered being equal (neither one having hyperlipidemia, diabetes, hypertension, smoking, etc).

  • http://Www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

    There is research that shows that those who calorie starve live longer. Losing weight brings all kinds of benefits drugs cannot. In those who exercise and diet the drugs can often go in the trash….no it’s not perfect….radiation caused my daughter’s cancer but places like MD Anderson have shown that healthy cells via exercise and diet can prevent more cancer….remission…etc.

    It seems as though entitlement without accountability means we just throw crap at the masses.

  • Penny

    I’ve never understood how they can arrive at a “cost” for obesity. For example, if a thin person were to get certain sicknesses, those sicknesses would likely “not ever” be attributed to thinness, but if a fat one were to get the very same sicknesses, those would indeed be attributed to his obesity, simply because that type of sickness often occurs in obese patients.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean that the sickness “was” caused by the obesity though, even if it is labelled that way by the system. It might have been caused simply because of a mere weakness in the patient’s genes.

    Furthermore, fat patients often die 10 or 20 years earlier than thin patients, relieving the system of
    very costly hip hip operations,
    very costly treatments for respiratory disorders,
    very costly treatments for falls,
    very costly treatment to manage pain for degenerative bone disorders,
    very costly treatment treatment for broken bones due to osteoporosis, and most of all,
    very costly treatment if the patient lives long enough to develop Alzheimers.

    So in the end, you would think that in actual fact, fat people are no more costly to treat than thin people and may even save the system a lot of money.because most will die before they get old.

  • Miryan

    The blame of the obesity epicemic is directlyy related in my opinion with the fact that there is too much junk in our foods. Fillers and added chemical to help things ” taste better” and last longer can not be good for our body. Public schools no longer cook any food for our children they heat and reconsititute what is plassed by as food. Offering our children a choice of Pizza for breakfast and lunch and chocolate or strawberry milk that contains more sugar that soda has is crazy. What good does it do to feed our children healthy food at home when they get fed junk at school.

  • Miryan

    Call me crazy but I thought that it was the business of doctors to help care for our illnessess, and not call ridicule or critisize their patients. The comment of ” I’m thin and fit, so shame on you for being fat ” does not fly. Some people don’t know any better. Some people beleve that eating healthy equals tasteless and tiny amouts of food and that will not fill them up. It is up to the Medical profession to educate their patients, not critisize them.

    • Chris

      Ah, I read a bit on fail blog where an overweight person was complaining that their doctor said they should lose weight. They called it criticism. Their friends suggested that they sue the doctor. That seems to be what you’re suggesting! Heaven forbid you have a doctor that tells you facts about what might be causing you danger or health problems.

      • http://Www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice

        Their friends suggested that they sue the doctor[end quote]

        Ha! Why is that the immediate reaction? How naive, costly….and with conservative torte reform nearly impossible. So telling a patient to lose weight is negligent? Wait until the liberals regulate our weight.

    • http://utilimed.wordpress.com Don Peterson

      Obesity, like smoking, is not an illness it’s a risk factor. Like sky diving: one is more prone to injury or illness if one engages in risky activities. Doctors don’t cure risk factors. As a tax payer, I don’t want to pay for people who choose the risks associated with obesity. Smoke all you want, don’t eat well and sit on your butt all day if you choose…that’s your right. By the same token, I want the right to say, “hey, I’m not paying for your new lung or your bypass surgery or your knee replacements if you lived that way…seems only fair that if you get to choose so do the taxpayers who would otherwise be saddled with your poor choices.

      • Ross

        Don,
        I’m a taxpayer too, and I understand where you are coming from. However, we have to get back to reality here. Although taxpayers don’t want to be saddled with the increasing health care costs of those who make “poor choices” how exactly are we to monitor that for all 300 million Americans? Questionaires? “Are you a skydiver? How many times a year? Do you engage in risky sexual behaviors? If so, please explain in the box for number 2,563 part A. How many times a day/week/month/year are you exposed to the sun? Do you always/mostly/sometimes/never wear 30+ sunscreen?” etc etc etc. These are all risky behaviors, right? My point is, overweight/obese people are being targeted, while there are plenty (and I mean PLENTY) of other risk factors and risky behavior that lead to increased costs of healthcare that no one wants to say a word about, because it is easy to pick on the “fatties”, am I right? They are easy to pick out of the crowd, easy to identify, and therefore, easy to blame. IMO, a lot of these discussions on the cost of obesity boil down to those who have a personal problem with those who are overweight/obese, because this is the group that is most hotly targeted. Other risk factors driving up the costs of healthcare are largely ignored in the media (and I don’t mean the ones I listed above, I used those to simply make a point).

  • Alicerobertson

    Anyhoo, you must face facts, Payne has a valid point in that whether a patient is overweight/obese or of normal weight, this is not exclusive from all other medical issues that a person may have. [end quote]

    I am one who thinks patients need to be accountable for the consequences of their actions and inactions. If we seek counsel from a doctor about health and they give it ….why the hypersensitivity? I was really sick years ago and gained weight…took spellbinding headaches. The doctor said as soon as we got the headaches under control to come back and discuss my weight. What’s to discuss? I was fat! Not ignorantly…educatedly fat. Problem is surgeons hate operating on fat people and cutting through the blubber, and fat on our organs. My friend was sent home to lose weight before the doctor would do surgery on her.

    I do not believe in blind obedience to doctors…they are often wrong…but an obese person will run into more health problems. Skinny people are not immune…they just have better odds…particularly if they keep the vices under control.

    Employers like the Cleveland Clinic are forcing standards on employees. Weight, triglycerides, cholesterol, nicotine usage are tested and you pay the higher premiums. My daughter is a nurse and her employer just did physicals that included waist measurement. I think it is about $30 a week more if you smoke or are overweight.

    We could consider staying in shape and bringing our weight down to a moderate level our donation to society:). Considering the money is limited we could be helping our fellow man get more of the pie if we eat less:)

  • http://www.twitter.com/alicearobertson Alice Robertson

    Anyhoo, you must face facts, Payne has a valid point in that whether a patient is overweight/obese or of normal weight, this is not exclusive from all other medical issues that a person may have. [end quote]

    I am one who thinks patients need to be accountable for the consequences of their actions and inactions. If we seek counsel from a doctor about health and they give it ….why the hypersensitivity? I was really sick years ago and gained weight…took spellbinding headaches. The doctor said as soon as we got the headaches under control to come back and discuss my weight. What’s to discuss? I was fat! Not ignorantly…educatedly fat. Problem is surgeons hate operating on fat people and cutting through the blubber, and fat on our organs. My friend was sent home to lose weight before the doctor would do surgery on her.

    I do not believe in blind obedience to doctors…they are often wrong…but an obese person will run into more health problems. Skinny people are not immune…they just have better odds…particularly if they keep the vices under control.

    Employers like the Cleveland Clinic are forcing standards on employees. Weight, triglycerides, cholesterol, nicotine usage are tested and you pay the higher premiums. My daughter is a nurse and her employer just did physicals that included waist measurement. I think it is about $30 a week more if you smoke or are overweight.

    We could consider staying in shape and bringing our weight down to a moderate level our donation to society:). Considering the money is limited we could be helping our fellow man get more of the pie if we eat less:)

  • Anonymous

    DOC …….. please stay out of politics and stick to medicine, and ask Michelle not to tell us how to live as she lives the way she chooses. I will assume you are a ‘picture of health’ as you suggest how your patients should live healthy lives. Yes, obesity costs society significant amounts of money. What is orders of magnitude more costly? Failed progressive programs that have helped ruin the family, increase poverty which has lead to increase drug use and other diseases that cost society.

    Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

  • Leader1776

    DOC …….. please stay out of politics and stick to medicine, and ask Michelle not to tell us how to live as she lives the way she chooses. I will assume you are a ‘picture of health’ as you suggest how your patients should live healthy lives. Yes, obesity costs society significant amounts of money. What is orders of magnitude more costly? Failed progressive programs that have helped ruin the family, increase poverty which has lead to increase drug use and other diseases that cost society.

    Don’t be part of the problem, be part of the solution.

  • Anonymous

    The author’s message was good.  Not strong enough for all political parties

    Overweight/Obese people who are on Medicare or Medicaid will not have a financial incentive to do “push aways”

    Big Ag is never going to care about public health – only profits.  They will continue to  push processed food laden with sugar, salt and fat.  These are the substances that cause people to overeat.

    The primary way to address this “epidemic” of
    overeating/poor nutrition choices is to use the tobacco model -A RISK tax –
    upfront and personal with a very strong message of the RISK for diseases.  It should be per gram sugar and fat and per
    100 mg of salt on all processed food – use the Nutrition Facts.  

    It is not the government (we the people?) telling us what we
    can eat, there are no Nazi police.  Lung
    cancer is about 90% preventable as is diabetes type II, hypertension, heart
    disease and some cancers – sugar, fat and salt are the villains.  The RISK tax and message would make the
    difference.  And just as people on food
    stamps are not allowed to purchase tobacco products with them, they should not
    be able to purchase high RISK foods with food stamps. 

     

    The goals are to have: 1) a healthier population regardless
    of political choice and to 2) cut healthcare costs to taxpayers because a lot
    of people will continue to receive healthcare who don’t pay taxes.  Preliminary calculations at $.003/gm sugar
    and fat and $.003/100 mg salt. = about $100 billion a year.   

     

  • Dorothygreen

    The author’s message was good.  Not strong enough for all political parties

    Overweight/Obese people who are on Medicare or Medicaid will not have a financial incentive to do “push aways”

    Big Ag is never going to care about public health – only profits.  They will continue to  push processed food laden with sugar, salt and fat.  These are the substances that cause people to overeat.

    The primary way to address this “epidemic” of
    overeating/poor nutrition choices is to use the tobacco model -A RISK tax –
    upfront and personal with a very strong message of the RISK for diseases.  It should be per gram sugar and fat and per
    100 mg of salt on all processed food – use the Nutrition Facts.  

    It is not the government (we the people?) telling us what we
    can eat, there are no Nazi police.  Lung
    cancer is about 90% preventable as is diabetes type II, hypertension, heart
    disease and some cancers – sugar, fat and salt are the villains.  The RISK tax and message would make the
    difference.  And just as people on food
    stamps are not allowed to purchase tobacco products with them, they should not
    be able to purchase high RISK foods with food stamps. 

     

    The goals are to have: 1) a healthier population regardless
    of political choice and to 2) cut healthcare costs to taxpayers because a lot
    of people will continue to receive healthcare who don’t pay taxes.  Preliminary calculations at $.003/gm sugar
    and fat and $.003/100 mg salt. = about $100 billion a year.