HealthCommentary

Exploring Human Potential

A New Approach to the Obesity Problem

Posted on | March 14, 2007 | No Comments

Depending on our own particular situations, it’s likely that we all perceive the obesity epidemic differently. It may be one of the top issues on your mind, or, on the other hand, you might see it as “not your problem.” But if you watch this week’s Health Politics program, you’ll soon understand that obesity is weighing heavily on our entire nation — most obviously in the form of rising health care costs — and every tax payer is affected by our continued inability to address the problem. Obesity leads to a myriad of serious health problems, and the medical expenditures have now topped $75 billion a year. Factor in lost productivity and we’re talking about much, much more.

So what can we do besides complain and lament? I recently read a commentary article by law professor Lawrence Gostin in the Journal of the American Medical Association. His thoughts, which inspired this week’s program, really made sense to me. It’s time to start using policy as a tool for change and prevention. In his words, “The justification lies with the epidemic rates of overweight and obesity, the preventable morbidity and mortality, and the stark health disparities based on race and socioeconomic status. If the problem were related to pathogens, tobacco, or lead paint, most would support aggressive measures to protect innocent individuals from hazards created by others.” An approach such as this – which supports public disclosure, changes in tax policy, and public health screening regulations – isn’t without its downsides, but I think we can all agree that it’s time to get control of the obesity problem.

Take a look at the program, and let me know what you think.

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