For years now, we've been told countless times that the issue of obesity is the single largest health concern facing this nation. Look around and you'd find it difficult to disagree. A new report out this week paints an even more dismal portrait for Missouri. The Show Me state now ranks 13th on the obesity chart of the 50 states with 63.3 percent of Missourians either obese or overweight.
Recognizing the problem is the easy part. Finding consensus on a solution is more difficult. But as is so often the case, we think that all problems can be solved by pouring more tax money into the solution. You would have thought we would have learned differently by now.
The typical political response comes from Rep. Craig Bland, a Kansas City Democrat. Bland wants a state obesity commission and a health board dealing with nutrition in schools. Someone needs to tell Rep. Bland that adding to the bureaucracy of state government is the wrong solution to the issue of obesity.
The weight problem in this nation is complex to say the least. But let's get a few things straight. The issue of obesity is not a result of a lack of information. There is an abundance of information on healthy eating habits available to everyone young or old, rich or poor, etc. If you don't know a triple cheeseburger is not necessarily healthy, it's your own damn fault. If you don't know that exercise is important to fighting obesity, you're stupid.
No amount of your tax dollars can solve stupidity and laziness. We most certainly need a different approach but it should not involve another layer of government nor another tax.
The core problem is that the "experts" are clueless on why people make poor choices. One of the leading obesity experts says: "We live in a society that does not encourage or promote the kind of behavior that makes a difference. We have to do a better job of helping them (obese Americans) make healthy choices."
We live in a society that does encourage healthy choices and we've done our job on pointing out the good and bad habits. But when someone drives by the fresh produce market to wait in the line at a fast food drive-in, it is their choice and not society's that is wrong.
Much of the weight issue is genetic in nature. Much is also simply poor choices.
Let's look to the private sector. How about the YMCAs providing a free Saturday program with qualified personal trainers for anyone with a weight issue? How about returning physical education to the daily school curriculum for all grades without exception? If we quit looking to government and start looking elsewhere we might just be surprised.