Brian L. Grant MD
Founder and Medical Director, MCN
This op-ed piece in the New York Times, along with many of the reader comments, are well worth reading. Obesity is a global public health emergency, and likely has greater impact on the state of U.S. health than tobacco use has had at its worst. I find myself musing on the similarities between the public’s approach to obesity and global warming, another topic that many choose to doubt despite metrics that suggests its truth. Like the warming earth, the fact that as a society we are getting fatter should be impossible to deny. The causes for this growing obesity problem, or whether or not there even is a problem for individuals or society, however, are debated. Related steps to address the problem are also heavily argued. After all, the growth in our girths is a new normal, while folks rail against airline seats rather than confront those of us who can’t fit into them.
The writers of this article, a pediatrician and economist, have a number of suggestions heavy on public policy changes and government intervention. Suggested changes may be desirable, but to be sure, they will at minimum take time to implement and most likely be heavily fought by well-funded lobbies and public outcry. These policy changes will do too little and be too late for those currently afflicted. Unfortunately, the authors say virtually nothing about individual contributions to the problem (without doubt aided by the seduction of cheap and ample calories), and choices that we can and must make on behalf of ourselves and our families today. People can’t wait or hope for government to change how much and what we choose to eat.