JLF Triangle Blog

More Nonsense That Government Should Help Keep People From Getting Fat

In this editorial, the Herald-Sun delves into why so many Americans are fat, and what should be done about getting people to stop eating more calories than their bodies use. The editorial refers to a recent AP poll as it concludes that — surprise, surprise — government should be involved in the fat problem.

Only a third of those responding say that obesity is a community problem; most say that individuals are responsible for their health.

It is a complex issue, because both assertions are true: individuals are responsible, but we have created a culture and society in which unhealthy food is cheap, available and heavily marketed, and sedentary lifestyles are commonplace. That momentum is beginning to shift, but governments and residents must partner together to work on providing opportunities and information that promote more healthy ways of life – as Durham and other communities here are doing. That effort will save money on health care costs and related expenses in the long run.

If you believe it takes a government official or program to keep you from gorging yourself and/or getting you to exercise, then you believe there is a role for government in virtually everything. And when you justify that role for government by saying the “effort will save money on health care costs and related expenses in the long run” then you have concluded that you will accept government everywhere, and involved in everything. Fact is, government involvement will not change human nature. People DO understand that eating cheeseburgers, fries, and shakes five times a week — and failing to walk, bike, run, etc. — means you will get fat. People simply like the cheeseburgers and they want the cheeseburgers NOW. They do not care what’s to come later. The solution is to make people more responsible for their cheeseburger-eating ways through higher insurance premiums for behavior-induced health issues that come with the choice of consistently eating more than your body needs. It’s not government that’s in short supply when it comes to obesity, it’s common sense and the maturity to take responsibility for one’s actions.

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