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Government Can Play Important Role in Obesity Epidemic, Expert Argues

(Science Daily) Addressing the obesity epidemic by preventing excess calorie consumption with government regulation of portion sizes is justifiable and could be an effective measure to help prevent obesity-related health problems and deaths, according to … Thomas A. Farley, M.D., M.P.H., Commissioner of the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene…
"Americans consume many more calories than needed, and the excess is leading to diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality. Since the 1970s, caloric intake has increased by some 200 to 600 calories per person per day. Although it is unclear how important changes in physical activity are to the surge in obesity prevalence, it is quite clear that this increase in calorie consumption is the major cause of the obesity epidemic—an epidemic that each year is responsible for the deaths of more than 100,000 Americans and accounts for nearly $150 billion in health care costs," writes Dr. Farley…
Dr. Farley writes that the food industry is effective at marketing foods with a high-profit margin. "How should government address the health problems caused by this successful marketing of food? To do nothing is to invite even higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and related mortality."
He suggests one option is to encourage food companies to voluntarily alter their products or marketing to reduce health risks… However, as publicly traded companies responsive to the interests of their shareholders, food companies cannot make decisions that will lower profits, and larger portion sizes are more profitable because most costs of delivering food items to consumers are fixed."
"The balanced and most effective approach is for governments to regulate food products that harm the most people, simultaneously encourage food companies to voluntarily produce and market healthful products, and then provide information to consumers in ways that facilitate their choosing healthful products."
Community: If we believe that companies “cannot” make decisions that will lower profits, even if those decisions are against the public interest, then we have the wrong belief about companies. They only exist because we the people find them useful. When they start to harm us, we have the right to curtail their activities, and I wish we could send some of them to prison. I think it was Bill Moyers who said he’d believe that corporations are persons (with constitutional rights) as soon as the state of Texas executes one.
Besides, isn’t it in the long-term best interest of the companies themselves to stop killing their customers?
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