Big, Fat Brother


In the New English Review, Theodore Dalrymple thinks pretty deep thoughts about the expectation that government should help prevent obesity. Taking off on two articles from the New England Journal of Medicine, Dalrymple wonders why analysis of childhood problems doesn't begin and end with parental responsibility.

Whatever the reason, the fact that two articles about the problem of childhood obesity in the NEJM could fail even to mention individual parental responsibility is indicative of what one can only call a totalitarian mindset. According to this mindset, it is for the government to solve every problem, either by prescribing behaviour, or forbidding it, or of course both. It is not that I think that the proposal that the government should ban the advertising of noxious products to small children is wrong; what bothers me is the failure to recognise that there is any other dimension to the problem, a dimension that is in fact much more serious.

No doubt the NEJM does not want to court unpopularity, or even notoriety, by suggesting that millions of American parents are, at least in this respect, failing their own children (I suspect that they are failing them in other respects too).

Jacob Sullum's seminal cover story on this issue—"The War on Fat"—is here.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.