April 27, 2013


The Experts: What Role Should Government Play in Combatting Obesity? (H. Gilbert Welch: 4/27/13, WSJ)

Promote Healthy Lifestyles Instead of "Dis-Ease"

Government should help facilitate healthy lifestyles, while striving not to induce anxiety into the general population. The emphasis should be on promoting health, not "dis-ease."

This distinction is particularly important with body weight, where there is no single "ideal" weight--and where what is labeled overweight (a BMI between 25 and 30) is actually associated with lower mortality than what is labeled normal weight (a BMI between 18.5 and 25). In the spirit of full disclosure: I am overweight.

To be sure, obesity (BMI between 30 and 35)--and, particularly, severe obesity (BMI greater than 35)--is a problem to be dealt with. But to avoid the downsides of labeling, government should be focused on promoting a healthy lifestyle for all of us.

It's what your grandmother would have told you: Don't smoke, eat your fruits and vegetables, and go play outside. [...]

Healthy weight is largely the product of diet and physical activity. Government can facilitate better diets both by educating people about smaller portions and less calorie-dense foods (whole grains, fruits and vegetables) and by enhancing access to those foods--both in so-called food deserts and in schools.

Government can similarly facilitate more physical activity by educating people about two things: 1) It doesn't have to be complicated (e.g., walk more, take the stairs) and 2) That it has multiple benefits (the reason I exercise is less to maintain my weight--or extend my life--it's more because I sleep better and feel better). 

...but about fitness.

Posted by at April 27, 2013 7:22 AM

blog comments powered by Disqus