Childhood Obesity Initiative — Misguided But Politically Correct
I started wondering when I first heard that the First Lady, Michelle Obama, was out to conquer childhood obesity. I am not obsessive about a lot of things — such as fashion and politics — that seem to ignite public passions like a match nearby a gas jet.
Journalist Jane Fryer with the 3 1/2 lb burger at Hillbilly Hotdogs in Huntington, WV
I suppose I can forgive Mrs. Obama for sublimating her true identity as a Harvard-trained lawyer who probably could have been some kind of a government official in her own rite. After all, a lot of people call themselves conservatives and suffer some kind of painful convulsions with any evidence that the world has changed since their own childhoods. They want the comfort of mother’s breast from their First Lady, although they want that breast to be glamorous enough to fit into some kind of designer dress.
It is not hard to tell what people want. Just look at how certain groups have reacted to Hilary Clinton. The job of politicians — and their families — is to get re-elected; to take those ignited passions and direct them publicly. She has been called all kinds of noble and idealistic. She is certainly being true to public vision of what First-Ladies should be doing – adopting a pet project and acting as champion for the cause:
- Lady Bird Johnson – anti-littering.
- Nancy Reagan – anti-drugs
- Barbara Bush – umm, give me a second …
Well, anyway, the potential destruction beneath the emotional power of “we have to save the children” ideology has been explored in such hard-hitting formats as the South Park movie. I may be the only person concerned by the total lack of science behind the current First Lady’s campaign. This issue is so complex that the most elemental data is contradictory. More overweight male kids than female, more female kids who think they are overweight, racial and cultural tendencies to value larger body-types, genetic determination of body size and shape.
Hey, out there — Anybody heard of eating disorders?. Recommendations such as family mealtimes? Recommendations such as maintaining physical education in the schools?
If people had trouble affording Mr. Holland’s’ music class, I am not sure how they will afford this. Long ago, for the brief part of my life, in 3rd grade, when I was in public school, we played dodge ball on blacktop between two brick buildings. On alternate days. One kid fell and got hurt. I was never picked voluntarily for a team because I was tubby and slow.
The data produced by The American Obesity Association reads like fiction. Now the things recommended by Mrs. Obama still make some level of basic cosmic sense, like stores selling healthier food in the inner city. God only knows how to make food stores set up in places where they are not. Government sponsored financial incentives? Our government is governing far too much, already, for my taste. Thomas Jefferson, who thought the government should have no business interfering with either medicine or nutrition – much less private businesses — is probably doing angry arabesques in his grave.
But wait, there’s more. We are so chauvinistic, us Americans. We do not check data from other countries. We naively believe that preventing or “eradicating” obesity will lower health care costs.
It raises them. And there is proof!
In the Netherlands, and it seems from data available, in the United Kingdom. Now looking at the obese, it seems that they do not live as long. Healthier people live to be older and thus use more government health care. If we are looking at health care costs alone, based on the European models, we will do an even more impressive job of running ourselves broke, if obesity prevention works. If it works, it will turn out to be another way to saddle future generations with debt they are unlikely to want or even be able to pay.
The world changes, but it does not. Politics never has been science. In fact, it is usually hostile to science. It has classically used advisors – especially ones who will give opinions that coincide with the agenda of the political party who hires them.
It seems now that politics, at least in the American bipartisan system, has become a simple appeal to emotions, in the absence of logic.