Monday, July 04, 2005

All Praise to Mammon and Pass the Fried Chicken (Bucket)

Oh. Good. Grief.

The Center for Consumer Freedom, an advocacy group financed by Coca-Cola, Wendy's and Tyson Foods, among others, has a Fourth of July message for you: worrying about the rapid rise in American obesity is unpatriotic.

"Far too few Americans," declares the center's Web site, "remember that the Founding Fathers, authors of modern liberty, greatly enjoyed their food and drink. ... Now it seems that food liberty - just one of the many important areas of personal choice fought for by the original American patriots - is constantly under attack."

It sounds like a parody, but don't laugh. These people are blocking efforts to help America's children.
It's hard to be too cynical when reality keeps overtaking you.

I'd really like to just enjoy this holiday and say "Happy Birthday" to my friend Rick.

But it gets harder and harder. And, of course, the discussion has to turn on costs. We can't discuss it in terms of "intangibles" like health, comfort, or even a reflection of our spiritual condition.

More important, however, is the role of the food industry. The debate over obesity, it turns out, is a lot like the debate over global warming. In both cases, major companies protect their profits not only by lobbying against policies they don't like, but also by financing advocacy groups devoted to debunking research whose conclusions they don't like.

The pro-obesity forces - or, if you prefer, the anti-anti-obesity forces - make their case in part by claiming that America's weight gain does no harm. There was much glee on the right when a new study, using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, appeared to reject the conventional view that obesity has a large negative effect on life expectancy.

But as officials from the C.D.C. have pointed out, mortality isn't the only measure of health. There's no question that obesity plays an important role in many diseases that diminish the quality of life and, crucially, require expensive treatment.

Good thing we're a "Christian" nation, or I'd be completely convinced we worshipped money.

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