I don’t usually write much here about obesity, or diets, or junk food addictions — critical diabetes issues to be sure, but not my personal bailiwick. Nevertheless, this stuff is getting harder and harder to ignore. As the D-epidemic spreads, the news resounds with stories on too much bad food and too little exercise. It’s the Westernized Lifestyle, stupid! Right?
Check out the latest hard-hitting Boston Globe editorial, which starts out by claiming, “Type 2 Diabetes is sweeping so rapidly through America we need not waste time giving children bicycles. Just roll them a wheelchair.” Ouch!
Author D.Z. Jackson’s main point is that America has “created a monster by allowing trash food marketers to prey on our children and by letting our children disappear into video screens.” A valid point, yes, but what to do about it? How to curb marketing without treading on our precious American free speech and entrepreneurial values? And is it not the responsibility of the informed consumer (i.e. parent) to filter out junk from quality? Just because McDonald’s says “I’m Lovin’ It” doesn’t mean you have to.
On this note, I have to say that I think the proposed Fat Tax (aka “Twinkie Tax“) is a great idea. Slap a 7 to 10 percent tax increase on high-fat, high-calorie, low-nutrient foods. After all, these are in some ways just as much a “drug” as alcohol and cigarettes, no? Opponents claim that the tax might punish poor people who spend most of their limited budgets on food, but this seems a bit absurd. Isn’t it among the poorest communities where obesity and diabetes are most rampant? As TheDiabetesBlog recently noted, “Take the money and make fruits and vegetables more affordable (!)”
California, Maine, and Maryland have apparently experimented with “fat tax” legislation; the biggest lesson learned is that the money needs to be earmarked for obesity-prevention programs or healthy food subsidies, rather than used to cover budget deficits. Doh!