Washington continues to focus on health care, but more recently some prominent political figures have narrowed in on the health-care issue of obesity. While it may seem like the topic du jour, obesity has long been a national obsession. Weight-loss reality shows are hit programs on network and cable television. Trashy pop culture rags regularly feature pictures of pin thin actresses on their covers accompanying the hurtful headline “packing on the pounds.” Numerous infomercials tout miracle exercise routines and equipment and diet products crowd grocery store shelves, proving that Americans are already plenty concerned about fat. Now Washington is embracing the anti-fat obsession. Unfortunately, the solutions politicians are pushing are no more likely to work than are the diet pills sold on the back pages of magazines. Instead of shrinking waistlines, these efforts are more likely to shrink Americans’ wallets and grow government.
If a policy issue could win the lotto, obesity just hit the jackpot. Named as a premier issue for the First Lady, it has risen to near the very top of the President’s agenda. Pretty impressive when it’s competing against the big boys like oh, you know…war, massive history-making levels of unemployment, wacky dictators with loose nukes, and continuing threats of terrorism. But that’s ok. How will we fight the enemy and get back to work if we’re all too fat to fit though the door frame? Priorities people…first things first!
And the White House isn’t wasting any time. Just last month, the President signed an executive order establishing a task force on childhood obesity. The task force—made up of four cabinet members, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and other high-level White House personnel—is charged with providing the President recommendations on the “development of legislative, budgetary, and policy proposals that can improve the health and well-being of children, their families, and communities.”
Why is it necessary to designate a special group of people to force this task? Isn’t there a really big building in the middle of Washington, DC with something like 64,000 employees and a budget of over $700 billion dedicated to health issues? Yes, there is! And it’s called the Department of Health and Human Services. Heck…the word “health” is even in the department’s title.
Someone tell the President!