Childhood obesity is quickly becoming an explosive hot-button issue this decade. From record size newborns being delivered in Texas to reality shows based around people struggling with childhood and adult obesity, Americans have a surreal relationship with the food and it’s, now more than ever before, accompanying food-related illnesses and dis-eases.
Seriously, can you imagine if you were watching any of the popular reality shows on drug abuse, and during every commercial break, there were 30 second spots selling cheap, hard drugs. Well, substitute drugs for food, and you have free-market capitalism at work. Everyone seems to accept our reality; we adjust appropriately in ways that respect our economic system.
Case in point, we’ve created huge, growing markets for gyms, workout dvd’s, personal trainers, nutritionists, Weight Watcher-type programs, pharmaceutical drugs, and many other jobs that help people with their diet and fitness issues. No one, here or anywhere, is calling for the government to announce a “War on Food” or start arresting parents for food-related crimes…until now.
USA Today reports that in a recent publication by Journal of American Medical Association, David Ludwig of Boston Children’s Hospital is suggesting that as many as two million children who are “morbidly obese” should be put on a diet by government and removed from their parents and families if they don’t show progress.
Ludwig is understandably under a lot criticism for such provocative suggestions, but he stands by his assertion that “[R]oughly 2 million U.S. children are extremely obese. Most are not in imminent danger. But some have obesity-related conditions such as Type 2 diabetes, breathing difficulties, and liver problems that could kill them by age 30.”
Ludwig and his co-author Lindsey Murtagh of the Harvard School of Public Health acknowledge their proposals are going to be controversial. “State intervention would clearly not be desirable or practical, and probably not be legally justifiable, for most of the approximately 2 million children in the United States with a BMI at or beyond the 99th percentile.”
But these suggestions come on the heels of a Washington Post report about President Obama’s White House communication director Anita Dunn, who is leading a battle against the government’s efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to children.
The group, called the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, which includes General Mills, Kellogg, PepsiCo, and Time Warner, has spent 6.6 million on lobbying in the first quarter in 2011 alone, and according to the report, the group collectively have spent nearly $60 million on lobbying since the start of the Obama administration.
All of this while FLOTUS Michelle Obama continues her Let’s Move campaign’s positive rhetoric about the seriousness of curbing the childhood obesity epidemic.
There seems to be a serious merger between corporate interests and government policy, which makes JAMA’s suggestion seem like a call for a “War on Food.” If the government starts to step in on families, the first families to go will be the poor and vulnerable–much like how the “War on Drugs” is fought now.
Do you think we are taking it too far? Well consider that many politicians are calling the obesity epidemic a matter of National Security. This is exactly what Richard Nixon said about drugs in his announcement of America’s new “War on Drugs.”
How can doctors suggest taking away a child when a new study now highlights the ineffectiveness of supermarkets on obesity rates? The implementation of grocery stores in poor neighborhoods was a government solution to the obesity epidemic. It has not worked.
The power and sustenance of the cheap foods produced by large chain restaurants are a pervasive yet necessary evil for many poor or time-strapped parents, and now doctors want to punish families because of this reality.
FrugiVoice: Does it make sense to take children to government sponsored “fat camps?” Are you in favor of government intervention in families who cannot provide better options for themselves or their children? Where do you stand?