Obesity is clearly weighing on everyone’s mind (eh?) with a flurry of opinion and commentary, all of it predictably anti-. At issue is how far the government should go in curtailing individual liberty to combat fast-expanding waistlines, which in turn raises the question: is eating greasy fast food on mass transit a fundamental human right, or merely uncouth and inconsiderate? The pundits sound off!
- The controversy was sparked by a new OECD report documenting obesity’s growing burden on the economies of countries of all income levels. Overall more than half of the people in 34 out of 36 OECD member countries are overweight, and nearly half of this cohort are actually obese.
- The OECD also warns that childhood obesity and morbid obesity have gone from relatively rare occurrences to being commonplace.
- This has a big economic impact: fully 14% of all U.S. healthcare spending now goes to treating conditions associated with obesity. Overall obesity is estimated to cost 3.3% of GDP across the OECD members.
- Looking for solutions, some public health officials are trying to winnow down the number of places where we can stuff ourselves. Thus England’s former chief medical officer Sally Davies, is calling for a ban on eating and drinking on public transit as well as an extension of the country’s sugar tax in her new report on childhood obesity. Importantly, per Politico, “Breastfeeding, drinking water and eating or drinking for a medical condition would be exempt.”
- Not everyone agrees, however: the Guardian’s Stuart Heritage has an amusing tongue-in-cheek riposte. But seriously: what if someone is working 16 hours a day and literally has no other time to eat? Or, what if they’re modeling healthy, responsible choices, for example with a non-gluten vegan tempeh wrap made with local, sustainably cultivated produce harvested by sparkle ponies at fair wages?