One cannot escape the issue of rising obesity rates in the United States. A current statistic predicts that by the year 2030, 42% of us will be obese. The ramifications of this ponderous eventuality could indeed weigh down and sink the nation. Some of the consequences include:
--zillions of health care dollars spent treating obesity directly,
--gazillions of health care dollars treating medical consequences of obesity,
--loss of economic productivity from a bloated workforce,
--diminished economic activity from corpulent citizens who limit travel and recreational activities,
--loss of quality of life for those who have expanded far beyond their desired body-mass index, and
--phasing out of Whoppers and Big Macs, two national gastronomical treasures.
Of course, the percentage of us who are deemed to be obese depends upon how we define the condition. Look what the medical experts have done with blood cholesterol levels, with the assistance of Big Pharma. As the threshold for a normal cholesterol value has steadily been lowered, more and more of us will be diagnosed with hypercholesterolemia. If the trend continues, the entire nation will be diseased and we will be urged to statinize ourselves.
What harms one person saves another. Even natural disasters create jobs and keep entire industries profitable. Similarly, the movement against obesity threatens many livelihoods. Here are a few folks whose incomes would suffer if the nation slims down:
--magic weight loss supplements that promise to melt pounds off,
--big & tall clothing stores,
--funeral homes. Fewer deaths per year will bury many of these businesses,
--the medical profession. How would physicians and hospitals make a living? There's no money in preventive medicine,
--tailors and seamstresses who won't have to let our pants out each year,
--gastric bypass centers that would have to market their services to overweight pets,
--weight loss programs that view the obese as worth their weight in gold,
--Big Pharma who will suffer huges losses as there will be fewer diabetics and hypertensives to treat,
--medical device companies who manufacture cardiac catheterization equipment,
--the exploding sleep apnea medical industry will be gasping for breath,
--Splenda and Sweet & Low companies. Slender folks won't be scared to ingest real sugar, and
--Kentucky Fried Chicken and other finger lickin' good delicacies.
Obesity has been demonized and has created industries to combat it and ostensibly to improve the nation's health. Crusades have arisen, spearheaded by the First Lady to protect kids from the heartbreak of heft. Dietary police will be roving the countryside targeting establishments that are pushing poisons on us, including doughnuts, chicken wings, funnel cakes, movie popcorn and Haagen Dazs ice cream, which creates the best vanilla ice cream in the world.
But before we create a national movement to stamp out corpulence in our lifetime, consider the economic consequences. (Why do you think that cigarettes are still legal?) Many folks depend upon our excessive poundage to feed their families and run their businesses. Weight loss is a job killer. To those who aim to destroy America one pound at a time, where's the outrage?
This post by Michael Kirsch, MD, FACP, appeared at MD Whistleblower. Dr. Kirsch is a full time practicing physician and writer who addresses the joys and challenges of medical practice, including controversies in the doctor-patient relationship, medical ethics and measuring medical quality. When he's not writing, he's performing colonoscopies.