Allocating Blame for Obesity

Even though I had written several articles about the unfair balance of power among corporations and consumers in many markets, I now think my previous writings about obesity have been overly reliant on a personal responsibility motif and expectation.

The documentary movie FED UP is a compelling portrait of the food industry’s role in marketing sugar to a population overly focused on the fat content of food. The food executives are indistinguishable from the tobacco executives of 30 years ago, unhesitatingly denying any role they play in the obesity and diabetes crisis.

Permitting food and agriculture interests to train our palates starting at age 1 in a direction almost guaranteed to shorten our lives and hamper our economy is an outrage fueled by the simple model that (1) A calorie is a calorie is a calorie, and (2) Exercise can offset any deleterious impact of over-eating.

That we would permit cries of “nanny state” and “freedom of speech” to overwhelm our concern about children’s  health is demonstrative of the power of poorly understood abstractions to shape our behavior.

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