In order to fight what it described as an "obesity epidemic," the American Medical Association voted on Tuesday to recognize obesity as a disease and recommended a number of measures to fight it.Now, I'm torn here. On the one hand, obesity is - with very few exceptions - 100% curable with no medical intervention. It's tough, certainly; however there is simple nothing stopping folks from changing their dietary habits and losing weight. Been there, done that. Yes, there are cases where there are physiological defects that cause people to become obese even though they are not overeating - but they dwarfed by plain old over-consumption.
The association voted on the measure at its annual meeting in Chicago. The AMA noted that obesity rates in the United States have "doubled among adults in the last twenty years and tripled among children in a single generation" and that the World Health Organization, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and Internal Revenue Service already recognize the condition as a disease.
Few would dispute that being obese leads to many other diseases - there's a great deal of evidence to that end. Make a dent in the number of obese Americans, there will be a corresponding decrease in these diseases. We're getting fatter as a nation, and reversing this trend is going to take a herculean effort.
But calling obesity a disease is a lot like calling "gun violence" an "epidemic". Obesity is a condition; gun violence is a specific subset of a type of crime. You don't catch obesity. You don't suddenly wake up one morning obese. It's pretty hard to miss the warning signs of weight gain, heart disease, etc. Simply put, it requires conscious effort on the part of the obese person to become obese, unlike someone suffering from cancer or high blood pressure.
There's the rub, though. We all crave the quick fix, and when we can't get it, we demand that someone step in and save us from ourselves. Can't put down the double bacon cheeseburgers? It's not your fault! You suffer from obesity! Obviously we'll need a government funded study to find out why you can't put down the double bacon cheeseburger, and then a government grant to study double bacon cheeseburgers, and finally a comprehensive "double bacon cheeseburger buy back" plan to take those dangerous food items out of overweight hands.
Good luck "warn[ing] of the risks of obesity." Good luck "highlight[ing] the benefits of exercise." Good luck pushing anything that vaguely resembles taking responsibility for your own actions. We don't need to take responsibility for our actions, remember? That's what Big Nanny government is for. Cigarettes are bad? Sue the tobacco companies! Heart disease is bad? Ban trans fats! Ban large sodas! Not "learn how to only have one double bacon cheeseburger. Not "take the stairs up one floor instead of the elevator". Those things are hard and require effort. Not like "Poof! All large sodas are hereby banned".
Just think about how much better it will be when they control *all* your healthcare and start mandating exercise...
That is all.
Another dispatch from...
(image courtesy of Robb Allen)