The movement against obesity threatens many livelihoods

One cannot escape the issue of rising obesity rates in the United States. A current statistic predicts that by the year 2030, 42% of us will be obese. The ramifications of this ponderous eventuality could indeed weigh down and sink the nation. Some of the consequences include:

  • Zillions of health care dollars spent treating obesity directly.
  • Gazillions of health care dollars treating medical consequences of obesity.
  • Loss of economic productivity from a bloated workforce.
  • Diminished economic activity from corpulent citizens who limit travel and recreational activities.
  • Loss of quality of life for those who have expanded far beyond their desired BMI.
  • Phasing out of Whoppers and Big Macs, two national gastronomical treasures.

Of course, the percentage of us who are deemed to be obese depends upon how we define the condition. Look what the medical experts have done with blood cholesterol levels, with the assistance of Big Pharma. As the threshold for a normal cholesterol value has steadily been lowered, more and more of us will be diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. If the trend continues, the entire nation will be diseased and we will be urged to “statinize” ourselves.

What harms one person saves another. Even natural disasters create jobs and keep entire industries profitable. Similarly, the movement against obesity threatens many livelihoods. Here are a few folks whose incomes would suffer if the nation slims down.

  • Magic weight loss supplements that promise to melt pounds off.
  • Big & Tall clothing stores.
  • Funeral homes. Fewer deaths per year will bury many of these businesses.
  • The medical profession. How would physicians and hospitals make a living? There’s no money in preventive medicine.
  • Tailors and seamstresses who won’t have to let our pants out each year.
  • Gastric bypass centers that would have to market their services to overweight pets.
  • Weight loss programs that view the obese as worth their weight in gold.
  • Big Pharma who will suffer huge losses as there will be fewer diabetics and hypertensives to treat.
  • Medical device companies who manufacture cardiac catheterization equipment.
  • The exploding sleep apnea medical industry will be gasping for breath.
  • Splenda and Sweet & Low companies. Slender folks won’t be scared to ingest real sugar.
  • Kentucky Fried Chicken and other ‘finger lickin’ good’ delicacies.

Obesity has been demonized and has created industries to combat it and ostensibly to improve the nation’s health. Crusades have arisen, spearheaded by the First Lady to protect kids from the heartbreak of heft. Dietary police will be roving the countryside targeting establishments that are pushing poisons on us, including doughnuts, chicken wings, funnel cakes, movie popcorn and Haagen Dazs ice cream, which creates the best vanilla ice cream in the world.

But before we create a national movement to stamp out corpulence in our lifetime, consider the economic consequences. (Why do you think that cigarettes are still legal?) Many folks depend upon our excessive poundage to feed their families and run their businesses. Weight loss is a job killer. To those who aim to destroy America one pound at a time, where’s the outrage?

Michael Kirsch is a gastroenterologist who blogs at MD Whistleblower.

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  • NormRx

    It isn’t just cholesterol level that have been dropping. Recommended levels of blood sugar and blood pressure have also been dropping. Soon everyone in the country will be on medication to lower cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure.

  • Docbart

    Mortality from heart disease has been falling since the advent of statins and stroke incidence has taken a beating with the use of more antihypertensive therapy, so maybe there’s really something in that prevention notion. Better vilify big Pharma.
    Why omit anti-smoking crusades as the job killers they are? What will oncologists do for work if we eliminate all carcinogen exposure? Think of all the empty ER beds if we got rid of cheap handguns! Scary.

  • drjoekosterich

    Brilliant! And lets not forget academics who need “funding” for research and public health people who need funding for programs

  • Jim Jaffe

    good point. and if we found a cure for cancer, we’d force scores of oncologists and their satellites onto the unemployment roles. hospital wards would be shut. insurance processors who process such claims would be jobless. let’s acknowledge that sickness has economic benefits– particularly for those on the provider side– and think twice before threatening their economic security by improving public health.

  • Dorothygreen

    “To those who aim to destroy America one pound at a time, where’s the outrage?”

    THE MEDIA – We will always have a tizzy about liberty with the mention of a “soda tax”. Big Ag and Big Food are there for us with big bucks when we say ” the govenment is trying to control our food or THEY would Impose a sin tax, fat tax, junk food tax that would need to be monitored by food police, food nazis. That we will have a nanny state. This is a slippery slope to ……..

    BIG AG AND BIG FOOD – How are we going to feed the world if we don’t get subsidized to produce sugar, animal fat and dairy, and refined wheat products. People ‘demand” tasty and cheap food. We have scientists who know how to create “taste” from sugar combined with fat and fat combined with sodium or all of them together. We pay them well. Of course we add fake natural flavor and some tomato, berries or greens for color. It Sells! Just check out our ads – these folks get good pay too!. We are doing nothing to promote obesity. It is are shareholders who we are beholden to. It is the people’s choice, their right to eat what they want. There are lots of things that cause obesity – no one really knows why this is happening. So get off our backs.

    SMALL FOOD STORES (Bodega in Brooklynese) – We cannot survive without cheap soda, candy, donuts, muffins, refined grain products, pizzas, calzones etc. This is what the people want and SNAP will pick up the tab for the poor. Vegetables are too hard to keep and cost too much and besides who likes to eat vegetables?.
    INDIVIDUALS
    I have no illnesss, don’t gain weight, drink soda and eat pizza. Why should I pay a tax on this.
    I can’t keep track of what is bad for me. There are too many ingredients I don’t even know.
    I’ll just take my statins and diabetic meds and eat what I want. There’s no proof I’m going to die from it.

    Your article was brilliant and gets the point across but:
    The outrage is unfortuantely much, much bigger than it was with tobacco as well as Big Food and Big Ag having enough tentacles hold big bucs that slip into politicians pockets. As one group has said: how many philly steak sandwiches, hot dogs, pizzas can the president eat.
    The efforts to really address the “overeating” of high caloric, low nutritious food will never become widespread until the culprits – 1) sugar (along with refined grains, the processed vegetable oils, corn fed animal and dairy fats and sodium are widely recognized as potentially addictive substances 2) overeating of these potentially addictive substances becomes an urgent public health issue with action and not just rhetoric and 3) we increase the “current actions” of eating culture reform – which must includes adopting the “tobacco model” as RISK – as these substances are now the biggest risk for chronic prevenatable diseases.
    Here’s what it means to individuals, who have learned the RISK of high caloric, low nutrition food, trying to stay on budget and eat healthy. It means higher income taxes not for those who develop diseases through no fault of their own like leukemia (which we should all share) but for those who develop chronic preventable diseases such as diabetes type II, heart disease and some cancers , who have chosen not to learn what foods are a RISK or who know there is a RISK but will not change their eating habits. The resultant health care costs has been shown to be the biggest chuck of both Medicare and Medicaid AND insurance premiums. It is very unfair along with the income taxes that go to pay the $750 Billion in health care waste.