Posting in Cancer
Food can be a drug. One-third of all American kids are obese, one-third of those born in 2000 will wind up diabetic, and obesity-related illness is now estimated to be $147 billion. That's just about what drug abuse costs.
The First Lady's decision to make childhood obesity her issue is getting predictable pushback.
The critics should read this week's New England Journal of Medicine.
Researchers from New York looked at data on American Indian children, in a tribe where obesity has long been a problem.
The fattest kids were more than twice as likely to die before age 55 as the thin ones. They didn't die cheap, either. They died from diabetes, from hypertension, from cancer, and from alcoholism, which can be made worse by diabetes.
Food can be a drug. It is often used as one. American holidays are filled with sweets, Valentine's Day being just one example. But what do kids get at Easter, at Halloween, at Christmas? Candy, sweets, empty calories.
Nothing wrong with that, if it's a treat. But kids get it every day, in sodas, from vending machines, hammered into their heads through TV.
Food is comfort, but comfort can also kill if you're getting too much of it.
There are two sides to this program. Both sides have popular advocates
Money is being spent, too. There is $400 million to bring green grocers into poor neighborhoods. There's $5 billion to expand farmers' markets, and $1 billion per year to improve school lunches (what Americans call school dinners).
That's where the critics will weigh in.
But today one-third of all American kids are obese, one-third of those born in 2000 will wind up diabetic, and obesity-related illness is now estimated to be $147 billion. That's just about what drug abuse costs. Critics don't object to government funding for programs about drugs and sex. This is the same thing.
In the end, however, the battle over food is a fight about market incentives. All our present market incentives steer families toward obesity. Incentives can be changed. Every dollar you put into one incentive can be taken out of somewhere else.
That's the real battle.
Feb 11, 2010
Dana, unfortunately you are a true progressive and believe that the solution is a one-way street and can be imposed by government and public schools. In the real world, it doesn't work that way. Prohibit soda and Cheetos in school, watch the black market spring up because the forbidden is enticing (didn't kids barter treats in their packed lunches when you were a child?). Ban smoking and watch the smokers congregate on the sidewalk. Eliminate salt and watch people sprinkle it on top. The point is that government knows very little about nutrition (the food pyramid is heavy on carbs, low on lean proteins) and nothing at all about what works to wholesomely feed an individual body. Remember when margarine was flogged and butter was demonized? Low fat, high (and empty) carbs were pushed? BMI is notoriously inaccurate for children particularly at times of growth spurts, or heavily muscled athletes such as weight lifters. And that does not even address allergies and food sensitivities! Parents need to get their own house in order and not be order takers for Big Brother.
The real point is, we should simply make information available to people, and then let them make their own choices. I'm tired of government officials sticking their nose in my business and telling me what to do and how to live. I know transfats aren't good for my body, but it's my right to have them used in my food if I want it. Unfortunately, not according to Mike Bloomberg (mayor of NYC) who took it upon himself not to merely let people know if they were consuming transfats but to ban them altogether. As for the first lady, I have a much bigger problem with her using her daughter as an example of fighting weight issues in children. I've seen their kids, and they look perfectly healthy to me. If one of them had put on a couple pounds, that should have been between the first lady and the family doctor, not the whole country. How long until this kid develops an eating disorder or is teased at school (being part of the first family does not make you immune to gossip in a schoolyard)?
Anything can be overused, and have the impact on the body you get from overdosing on a "drug." A "drug' -- any drug, even aspirin, can be misused. Food is the same. It can be overused. And it takes education, in a world of plenty, to get that message through.
So how long will we have to wait until someone develops a healthy drug? Humans have taken drugs since before we were humans. Since almost all drugs are prohibited today, only food remains. We know that many drugs while giving a 'good feeling' also eliminate or reduce hunger. Too bad that these same drugs have so many bad effects too. That goes for alcohol and cigarrettes as well, even if they are 'allowed'. How difficult would it be to produce a good drug, without serious side effects? I mean; when we laugh it makes us feel good, and that good feeling is not, as far as we know, damaging to us. Which chemical in our brains produces that good feeling when we laugh? Can it be made synthetically? Could I buy some laughing pills some day? Why is everybody only concerned with saying 'bad bad drug users' instead of doing something constructive about it?