Tuesday, September 21, 2004


"Earlier this year, the federal government discovered yet another crisis of catastrophic proportions - we're too fat. Bowing to incessant media coverage spurred on by those who continually insist that the "sky is falling," the U.S. government officially recognized that America is weighed-down in an "obesity crisis." And, what's more, we can't save ourselves, at least not without the help of those in Washington, or so they say.

Thus, through what seemed to be an innocuous observation, the federal government promised an ominous intrusion into all our lives. By recognizing obesity as a disease, the Feds took their first definitive steps toward inserting bureaucrats into individual decisions about what we eat and drink, assuring us that the federal government would help us change our "waist-full" ways.

Specifically, Medicare authorities announced in July that all language stating that obesity is not a disease would be removed from the Medicare coverage manual, thereby allowing Medicare payments for obesity treatments. With this change, Medicare will soon underwrite diet programs, behavioral counseling and stomach stapling.

Ignoring all of the pseudo-scientific research that tries to absolve overweight individuals from bearing any responsibility for their size, we should be specific about what obesity really is. Obesity is the inevitable consequence of eating too much and exercising too little. Although saying so violates the sacred tenets of political correctness, obesity is the result of two deadly sins: gluttony and sloth. Classifying obesity as a disease flies in the face of this rather obvious, though unpopular, understanding.....

Despite whatever ludicrous excuses the crusading special interests and avaricious trial lawyers may come up with to shift the blame elsewhere, obesity is still a matter of self-control. No one is forced to eat more calories than they burn, and overweight people can see dramatic improvements in their health and appearance by changing their lifestyles.

Nevertheless, the new talking points used in the obesity debate demonstrate just how far we have wandered from medical and scientific reality. Obesity is now dubbed an "epidemic," a contagion needful of containment. But being overweight is not like contracting the flu or the bubonic plague. It results from a lifetime of individual choices. And just because a large number of people choose to over-indulge and under-exert does not make those choices everyone else's fault.

Using our tax dollars to pay for weight loss sends the wrong message loud and clear: "Obesity is not your fault. You cannot lose weight on your own, so we will spend whatever it takes to help you." If government picks up the tab for overeating, then for what will individuals be held accountable? Personal responsibility will be unnecessary, at the cost of individual freedom. After all, since obesity has been officially dubbed as too big for individuals to deal with on their own, Big Brother will undoubtedly come to our aid, every single one of us, limiting all our choices.

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A good comment from one of my readers on yesterday's post: "The real danger posed by McDonalds is to Leftist ideology. Anytime you wander into a McDonalds you will see a cross-section of society whether it be the bottom rungs of those who have very little (and will never have much) to the very upper classes who often walk in with the family in tow. It is in these 'fast food' chains, and to a lesser extent the shopping malls, where class distinction becomes at least blurred and over time this distinction will vanish. It is the disappearance of class distinction that is so dangerous to the Left and so that is why we have the rise of the 'food Nazis'.

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