Obesity in America: To Win, We Have to Lose Government

Can the government make you lose weight? Officials sure think so.

In May 2012, an HBO documentary and a Washington conference, both named "The Weight of the Nation," made the case for government intervention in your workout, your workplace and your kid's lunchbox. They argue that lack of individual willpower is not to blame for obesity, and that it will take a serious government overhaul to shrink waistlines on a national scale.

"It's an access issue. We live in an obesogenic environment," says Dr. Lisa Santora, chief medical officer of Southern California's Beach Cities Health District. President Obama agrees. He has already bundled $15 billion in with his healthcare reform bill, and we've seen government programs intervening in nutrition time and time again.

 So far, the programs haven't worked out too well. 

"The reasearch shows that we haven't been very good at trying to, through government, control obesity," says Cal Poly economics professor Michael Marlow. He says that even when the government realizes that their solutions don't work, they will only try more aggressive regulations that will further impend on your freedom to choose whatever you want on the menu. 

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. Shot by Paul Detrick, Sharif Matar and Oppenheimer.

About 5.40 minutes.

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  • Brandybuck||

    Maybe we can just ban big gulps? Surely that will fix things.

  • Scarcity||

    Government programs only fail because we didn't try hard enough.

  • ¿Ex Nihilo?||

    We live in an obesogenic environment.

    WTF does that even mean?

    The term “obesogenic environment” refers to “an environment that promotes gaining weight and one that is not conducive to weight loss” within the home or workplace (Swinburn, et al., 1999). In other words, the obesogenic environment refers to an
    environment that helps, or contributes to, obesity.

    So any place that has food.

  • Raven Nation||

    Can we agree: any one who uses the word "obesogenic" should be banned from speaking in public ever again. My right to be free from hearing stupidity trumps their free speech rights.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    They argue that lack of individual willpower is not to blame for obesity, and that it will take a serious government overhaul to shrink waistlines on a national scale.

    Apparently, a national policy of JAPANESE WORKER CALISTHENICS!! will be next on their agenda.

    Instead of low-grade propaganda like the NFL's "Play 60" ads (complete with a shitty tune featuring a Gregorian chant on crack), it will be the Department of Labor's "PLAY 60 OR ELSE!!!" commercials.

  • Zeb||

    What the fuck do these people think "willpower" means? Of course it is a problem of individual willpower. That's what willpower is: your conscious, rational mind deciding to do things other than what your bodily cravings dictate. Just because it is hard doesn't mean it is not about willpower.

  • Kroneborge||

    A national PT policy combined with outlawing private food (everyone must each at government kitchens) would fix the problem. If it works for privates in the army, it would work for everyone else.

    If you don't want to do that, then I would seriously look at the government policies that encourage carb consumption. Also might want to get rid of the corn subsidies.

  • Arakh||

    Disappointing. I thought the piece would cover the government subsidies that keep high-calorie foods cheap. Seems that's at least part of the problem.
    Instead the article is a scattershot critique of what doesn't work, versus providing solutions. If it IS a lack of willpower, why does the US suffer more from it than other countries? If it ISN'T lack of knowledge, why are people buying lean cuisine thinking it's healthy. Of course there is a lack of knowledge. People base their decisions on advertising claims and meaningless labels like "natural". So why deride educational campaigns that tie massive ingestion of sugary soda to diabetes? It worked for tobacco smoking.

  • Thomas O.||

    As much as we don't need an obesogenic society, we don't need a society that holds up an impossible standard of healthiness, such as what has been permeating the fashion world (and some "shock jock" talk shows), where if you can't see your rib cage, you're too fat. There's been enough girls starving themselves to death already because they're under the impression that they haven't lost enough pounds. This is one area where we have to, to quote Depeche Mode, get the balance right. (And this is coming from a chronic fatass.)

  • NinaM||

    Of course government can't "cure" obesity. The only thing that stops a person from becoming obese is his or her choice to not overeat. That's it. That's the cure for obesity. Don't eat too much.

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