Friday, March 4, 2011

Putting Children's Health Ahead of Corporate Profits

Saying no to anything and everything associated with Barack Obama is what passes for deep thought in conservative circles these days. The conservative reaction is such a knee-jerk reflex that usually they end up looking ridiculous.

A case in point is the conservative attack on Michelle Obama for her campaign against obesity.

The focus on obesity among health professionals is not about how people look. It is not driven by a desire to have everyone look like anorexic super models. It's about wanting people to live longer, healthier lives. Obesity raises a person's risk for multiple diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, several forms of cancer, stroke, joint problems, sleep apnea, and gallstones.

Leaders of the Republican Party such as Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin have jumped all over Mrs. Obama. Limbaugh attacked Mrs. Obama for being too fat to pose for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition and Palin accused her of trying to ban desserts. The underlying message is that Mrs. Obama is trying to use the government to force Americans to be healthy and that is the big, bad "nanny state."

Conservatives say what people eat is none of the government's business. But government does have a stake in having healthy citizens. People with heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and other problems associated with obesity may be less productive on the job. They may miss work more often than someone who is not sick. They usually require more health care, a cost that is shared by other Americans, whether they are insured privately or covered by Medicare or Medicaid. And unhealthy citizens make poor soldiers. This is not a new problem. In World War II, so many draftees had to be rejected due to malnutrition that the nation started the National School Lunch program. And malnutrition and obesity often are linked, as people may consume the wrong foods even though they take in more calories than they need.

In the conservative world view, government and important opinion leaders outside of government would stay silent and people would just be "responsible." Corporations would be free to "supersize" portions and push high-sugar and high-fat foods at children day in and day out. People, including impressionable children, would supposedly just make up their own minds.

But with no other information in the marketplace of ideas to counteract the message contained in billions of dollars in corporate advertising, people would hardly have a free, informed choice. And that appears to be just fine with conservatives who would sacrifice children's health on the altar of corporate profits.

1 comment:

Communications guru said...

It’s just amazing the crap Limbaugh has said about the First Lady. He needs to look in the mirror before he says it. The hatred for the Obamas is like nothing we have ever seen. No one had a problem with Laura Bush’s literacy campaign, and we didn’t hear anchor baby and hatemonger Michele Malkin scramming about Mrs. Bush making kids read books against their will.