Well, can’t say I didn’t warn you.
Two little gems came out this week in the effort to curb obesity and its related diseases, and let’s just say the upcoming fights are going to be fun to watch.
The first little nugget - Saturday the 26th, the AP (Associated Press) ran an article by Mike Stobbes equating obesity with smoking. You can read the article here: http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MED...
but I’ll synopsize for you. The argument being, that like smoking, many cases of obesity are “conditions of choice”. That meaning you can prevent the health issues associated with it in the first place by changing your eating habits (or not starting them in the first place). The big argument – if you chose to eat yourself to death, you’re pretty much only harming yourself right? A smoker on the other hand harms others with his second hand smoke. That’s why it’s not an equal comparison (or is it).
Despite the arguments that are sure to erupt, figures show that obesity costs more in health care costs, as well as reduces life expectancy more than smoking does. Still smokers are actively stigmatized far greater than those who over eat.
The second nugget, pretty much on the same subject, comes from senior research scholar Daniel Callahan at the Hastings Center - a bioethics think-tank (a place where people think about ethics).
Since obesity is becoming a national epidemic, Mr. Callahan thought that like smoking, “shaming” those into giving up the habit of over eating or continuing poor eating habits would be an effective tool in reducing obesity. It’s been tried before and failed, but could the time be right for it to work now?
This brings up some questions in my mind.
With today’s regulations on smoking, it’s quite difficult for a non-smoker to cross the path of a smoker long enough to encounter second hand smoke considered to be “harmful”, unless of course you’re stuck in a house with a smoker. Is the second hand issue pretty much dead now? Remove the second hand issue and all you’re left with is the smoker is a burden only on society for future medical problems, just like the obese. Is it now a level field?
No doubt obesity is going to creep into the health care society and soon will be another premium increase with many insurance companies. For those who can maintain (or return to) a healthy weight, should they be penalized like a smoker on their health and life insurance premiums?
Should we now be putting health warnings on foods like we do on cigarettes?
I remember the anti-smoking smoking posters of the 70’s and 80’s hung up in doctor’s offices and clinics. One showed a wrinkled, toothless old woman, cigarette in hand, with the caption “Smoking is Glamorous”. Would it be ethical (or even effective) to put up posters with a picture such as this http://wobmam.com/obesity-costs-nation-nearly... with a caption “That pizza sure looks good on you Dave”?
Quite honestly, I thought that was a picture of me from 7 years ago, but I don’t wear Crocs.
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