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They almost said it like it is



An abstract bemoaning the difficulty in treating "obesity":
http://www.thehastingscenter.org/Publications/HCR/Detail.aspx?id=6184
Obesity may be the most difficult and elusive public health problem this country has ever encountered. Unlike the classical infectious diseases and plagues that killed millions in the past, it is not caused by deadly viruses or bacteria of a kind amenable to vaccines for prevention, nor are there many promising medical treatments so far. While diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure can be caused by obesity, it is easier to treat those conditions than one of their causes. I call obesity elusive partly because of the disturbingly low success rate in treating it, but also because it requires changing the patterns, woven deeply into our social fabric, of food and beverage commerce, personal eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles. It also raises the most basic ethical and policy questions: how far can government and business go in trying to change behavior that harms health, what are the limits of market freedom for industry, and how do we look upon our bodies and judge those of others?
My rewrite of the abstract:

" 'Obesity' may be the most difficult and elusive thing that people looking to make money have tried to categorize as a public health problem. Unlike the classical infectious diseases and plagues that killed millions in the past, it is not caused by deadly viruses or bacteria of a kind amenable to vaccines for prevention, nor are there many promising medical treatments so far. In fact it doesn't affect health that much for the vast majority of people who are labeled with it, and is not really a big deal at all. While diabetes, heart disease, and kidney failure can be accompanied by 'obesity', it is easier to treat those conditions than the plumpness that sometimes accompanies them. Also, treating those conditions actually works a lot of the time, whereas temporarily changing the plumpness doesn't do anything in the long run. I call 'obesity' elusive partly because of the disturbingly low success rate in scaring people about it, but also because creating that fear requires changing the patterns, woven deeply into our social fabric, of food and beverage commerce, personal eating habits, and sedentary lifestyles. It also raises the most basic ethical and policy questions: how far can government and business go in trying to change behavior that doesn't harm health, what does it even mean to call obesity a behavior when it's actually a descriptor, what are the limits of market freedom for industry, and how do we look upon our bodies and judge those of others?"

This entry was originally posted at http://firecat.dreamwidth.org/798563.html, where there are comment count unavailable comments. I prefer that you comment on Dreamwidth, but it's also OK to comment here.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
sabotabby
Jan. 24th, 2013 02:04 am (UTC)
Permission to use "omgbeesity" every time the discussion comes up?
bunnybutt
Jan. 24th, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
omgbeesity!

My only comment is that "they" seem rather successful in scaring people about it, especially recently.

Pcon = PantheaCon, btw.
firecat
Jan. 24th, 2013 06:32 am (UTC)
Yes, they do. And yet their whole abstract was about how they didn't think they were scaring people enough.

Pcon = PantheaCon, btw.

D'oh!

Probably not going, but not ruling it out.
jenk
Jan. 24th, 2013 10:13 am (UTC)
And yet their whole abstract was about how they didn't think they were scaring people enough.

True dat.
firecat
Jan. 24th, 2013 06:30 am (UTC)
I didn't make it up, I'm just spreading the meme. Please do likewise!
jenk
Jan. 24th, 2013 10:12 am (UTC)
Nice. Unfortunately they're better at scaring people about it than actually doing anything about it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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