Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Obesity and Global Health

Newsweek interviews Barry Popkin, author of "The World is Fat," who offers some suggestions on why obesity is on the rise globally. His main argument seems to be the growth of an "obesogenic environment," i.e a surplus of food plus a culture of inactivity.

Some interesting points at the end, too, on the subject of intervention:

Some people are going to respond to all this by saying it should be a matter of individual responsibility that diet and weight are a matter of choice and the government shouldn't meddle.
That's OK if those people want to pay for the extra health-care costs that come with obesity. But right now this is affecting everyone in America, because we all pay those costs. It's the same issue we had with seatbelts. People who didn't use them were only hurting themselves, physically, but in the process, they were raising insurance costs for everyone. Now we are at a point where people can't even walk and they need scooters to get around, where we have to build special beds and chairs in hospitals, where we're taking toes and feet off people that have diabetes. If the government is going to pay for all of this, that affects everyone, and we need to do something about it. But America is a society that prefers to break things and then pay to fix them.

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