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Obesity Is The Government's Business

The BriefGet Up To Speed

With 33% of adults and 17% of children obese, the U.S. is facing an obesity epidemic. A major risk factor for expensive, chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, it costs our health care system nearly $150 billion a year.

Should government intervene, or is this a matter of individual rights and personal responsibility?

For Government Intervention

When addressing responsibility for obese and overweight, all variables must be addressed: the individual, government, community and the food industry must lay claim to the impact of unhealthy choices and lack of access in the nation.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Adrienne Mercer

Adult obesity rates increased in 16 states in the past year and did not decline in any state, according to F as in Fat: How Obesity Threatens America's Future 2011, a report from the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. 

Friday, July 1, 2011
Trust for America’s Health and The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

This four-part series examines the global obesity pandemic: its drivers, its economic and health burden, the physiology behind weight control and maintenance, and what science tells us about the kind of actions that are needed to change our obesogenic environment. The fourth paper concludes that sustained interventions at several levels, with national governments taking the lead, are necessary to halt and reverse the epidemic.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Although personal responsibility plays a crucial part in weight gain, we are being overwhelmed by the effects of today’s “obesogenic” environment, with its abundance of energy dense food, motorized transport, and sedentary lifestyles. This report finds that a substantial degree of intervention is required to affect an impact on the rising trend in obesity.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Foresight Programme
Against The Motion

Economics professors Marlow and Shiers predict government intervention will make obesity worse as it crowds out market-based solutions.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Michael L. Marlow and Alden F. Shiers

A better approach to our nation’s childhood-obesity problem would be to scale back government-provided and subsidized meal programs significantly and to reduce the number of children eating these largely unhealthy meals.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Julie Gunlock

The Center for Consumer Freedom, which promotes personal responsibility and consumer choice, oppose authoritarian proposals to tax, legislate, and litigate away food and beverage choices.

Friday, June 25, 2010
Center for Consumer Freedom

Singling out soda and candy for taxation is a poor method of combating obesity. Proponents of obesity taxation argue that they are helping to internalize externalities, yet what they really do is unfairly burden all who enjoy soda and candy, regardless of what might be otherwise very healthy lifestyle habits.

Monday, October 31, 2011
Scott Drenkard

The vast majority of American middle schools and high schools sell what are known as “competitive foods,” such as soft drinks, candy bars, and chips, to children. The authors found that children’s weight gain between fifth and eighth grades was not associated with the introduction or the duration of exposure to competitive food sales in middle school.

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Jennifer Van Hook and Claire E. Altman
"Obesity": Definition and Trends

Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 21

Institute Body mass index (BMI) is a measure of body fat based on height and weight that applies to adult men and women. Use the calculator on this site to determine yours.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
  National Heart Lung and Blood Obesity in America

The prevalence of BMI-defined obesity in adults in the United States continues to exceed 30% in most sex-age groups. It increased significantly over the 12-year period from 1999 through 2010 for men and for non-Hispanic black and Mexican American women, but did not change between 2003-2008 and 2009-1010 for men or women.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Katherine M. Flegal
Healthy and Obese?

Countless epidemiological studies have shown that as you move from a normal body weight towards obesity the risk of many chronic diseases increases exponentially. However, more and more research suggests that the relationship between body weight and health is much more nuanced than previously thought.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Peter Janiszewski

Doctors have known for years that obesity doesn't affect all people the same way. An obese person could lead a healthy life while another person with the same body mass index, or BMI, could have severe medical problems.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Madison Park

A <a href="">study</a> examining the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and illness suggests that a BMI of 30 or above, a signal of obesity, according to federal health standards, does not translate into current illness among adults under age 40.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Research News

Researchers conclude that obesity is associated with higher mortality from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and kidney disease, but not cancer, and may even be associated with decreased mortality from non-cancer and non-cardiovascular diseases.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007
K. M. Flegal

Federal researchers concluded that being overweight isn't associated with the chances of dying from heart disease or cancer. There's just one small problem with this study: Its conclusions are almost certain to be wrong.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007
Harvard School of Public Health Journal of the American Medical Association

The Obama administration is asking food makers to sharply limit any advertising to children and teens of foods high in sodium, saturated fat and added sugars, in an effort to curb obesity. Some food advertisers said the guidelines—which wouldn't take effect until 2016—are too onerous and called for changes.

Friday, April 29, 2011
Janet Adamy

Find links to the Interagency Working Group on Food Marketed to Children’s preliminary proposal for voluntary nutrition standards for foods marketed to kids, as well as FTC testimony.

Thursday, October 13, 2011
Lesley Fair

According to the Sensible Food Policy Coalition, 88 of the 100 most commonly consumed foods and beverages in America would fail the Interagency Working Group proposed nutrition standards.

Friday, June 25, 2010
Sensible Food Policy Coalition

The food and advertising industries have launched a multi-pronged campaign to squash government efforts to create voluntary nutritional guidelines for foods marketed to children.

Saturday, July 9, 2011
Lyndsey Layton and Dan Eggen

Fast Food FACTS quantifies the nutritional quality of fast food restaurant menus and documents the full array of marketing practices used to promote these restaurants and their products to children and adolescents.

Friday, December 3, 2010
Jennifer L. Harris
Cost of Obesity

The medical care costs of obesity in the United States are staggering. In 2008 dollars, these costs totaled about $147 billion.

Monday, March 28, 2011
Department of Health and Human Services

The authors conducted a broad search of the literature that addresses potential economic costs of obesity and found the total annual economic costs associated with obesity to be in excess of $215 billion.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010
Ross A. Hammond and Ruth Levine
Government Action & Resources

Search this database for state Legislative and regulation actions related to obesity, nutrition and physical activity topics.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969
Department of Health and Human Services

Let’s Move! is a comprehensive initiative, launched by the First Lady, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation. The five pillars of the initiative are creating a healthy start for children; empowering parents and caregivers; providing healthy food in schools; improving access to healthy, affordable foods; and increasing physical activity.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

The decision that Medicare will pay for screening and counseling services to help obese patients lose weight has opened an old debate about who can best help people slim down.

Thursday, December 1, 2011
Nanci Hellmich and Kelly Kennedy

Shortly after the kick off the “Let’s Move” program, the administration awarded more funds to fight obesity than tobacco through two big new money sources for preventive health. The funds, totaling $1.15 billion, came from economic stimulus and health care reform legislation. They still provided more than $200 million for tobacco-use prevention.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010
Duff Wilson
Georgia’s “Strong4Life” Campaign

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta is hearing strong criticism from some camps for its in-your-face advertising campaign designed to attack Georgia’s childhood obesity epidemic. But the pediatric health system stands firmly by its approach.

Sunday, January 1, 2012
Carrie Teegardin

Tracking research shows more than 80 percent of Atlantans who have seen the ads agree with the approach. Eleven percent do not like the ads and we understand their reservations, but discomfort can lead to change.

Thursday, January 12, 2012
Doug Hertz

Most Americans say the government should play a significant role in reducing obesity among children. But there is strong opposition to government involvement in this effort among conservative Republicans and Tea Party supporters.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Pew Research Center
Related Articles

Erin Allday, SF Chroncle, February 2, 2012 Like alcohol and tobacco, sugar is a toxic, addictive substance that should be highly regulated with taxes, laws on where and to whom it can be advertised, and even age-restricted sales, says a team of UCSF scientists.

Wednesday, December 31, 1969

Researchers from the University of California and the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan believe they have discovered how fatty foods “trigger” type 2 diabetes. It said that the discovery may lead to a “cure” for the disease.

Monday, August 15, 2011
NHS Choices

Researchers from the University of California and the RIKEN Advanced Science Institute in Japan believe they have discovered how fatty foods “trigger” type 2 diabetes. It said that the discovery may lead to a “cure” for the disease.

Friday, March 12, 2010
Jeff Nield

While there are many community efforts aimed at getting every child to eat better and exercise more, including Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” initiative, there is also growing demand for programs that help children who are already seriously overweight. WellPoint and the UnitedHealth Group, another large insurer, are experimenting with new approaches.

Monday, January 16, 2012
Reed Abelson

A slice of pizza still counts as a vegetable. In a victory for the makers of frozen pizzas, tomato paste and French fries, Congress on Monday blocked rules proposed by the Agriculture Department that would have overhauled the nation’s school lunch program.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Ron Nixon

The authors identify seven “triggers” that prompt government to intervene in citizens’ private habits, which triggers have been tripped in the case of obesity and food consumption, and what government now does in this field and what it might do in the future.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016
Rogan Kersh and James Morone