Stop Subsidizing Obesity

Not long ago few doctors – not even pediatricians – concerned themselves much with nutrition. This has changed, and dramatically: As childhood obesity gains recognition as a true health crisis, more and more doctors are publicly expressing alarm at the impact the standard American diet is having on health.

“I never saw Type 2 diabetes during my training, 20 years ago,” David Ludwig, a pediatrician, told me the other day, referring to what was once called “adult-onset” diabetes, the form that is often caused by obesity. “Never. Now about a quarter of the new diabetes cases we’re seeing are Type 2.”

Ludwig, who is director of the New Balance Foundation Obesity Prevention Center in Boston, is one of three authors, all medical doctors of an essay (“Viewpoint”) in the current issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association titled “Opportunities to Reduce Childhood Hunger and Obesity.”

That title that would once have been impossible, but now it’s merely paradoxical. Because the situation is this: 17 percent of children in the United States are obese, 16 percent are food-insecure (this means they have inconsistent access to food), and some number, which is impossible to nail down, are both. Seven times as many poor children are obese as those who are underweight, an indication that government aid in the form of food stamps, now officially called SNAP, does a good job of addressing hunger but encourages the consumption of unhealthy calories.

Read the rest of this column here.

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One thought on “Stop Subsidizing Obesity

  1. The trouble is by declaring a "war on obesity," they are basically sanctioning bullying of larger people. This is bad enough for adults. It’s worse for children. The current system doesn’t work. You did address the fact that obesity is more prevalent in impoverished populations, and I commend you for that. Often people merely cite the old "eat less and exercise more" mantra. But there’s more to it than that. Obesity is a multi-factoral issue. Some people who might qualify as "obese" are perfectly healthy. My favorite saying is "treat the patient, not the chart." My son learned that one from his EMS instructor.

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