April 30, 2006


This morning I attended the next lecture in the ongoing NU Innovations Series. The talk was entitled "Trimming the Fat: Legal Strategies and Public Health Policies for Fighting the Obesity Epidemic" given by Richard A. Daynard. One of the most striking statistics from the presentation was that a recent CDC study showed that out of children born in the US in 2000, over 1/3 will develop diabetes. 33% of all children developing diabetes to me is a staggering amount, especially if you consider that 30 years ago only about 5% of the population had diabetes.

The New York Times ran a recent series of articles about diabetes and having it just causes so many problems, I'm really beginning to think that it will be the next major heal epidemic that hits the US. Part of the problem is that the effects can be lat onset and it isn't nearly as obvious or linked as high to health issues as smoking is. The fact that we have genetics (store food, fat is good, sweet is awesome), cultural, and environmental factors among others all influencing obesity doesn't help.

One of the ideas proposed is to place a tax on high calorie low nutrient dense food as a way of subsidizing the downstream medical costs of eating such food. In the current environment with the lobbyists and the general capitalistic attitude in America, that sounds like a pipe dream. Unfortunately, like most situations it is going to take a crisis before things really do change. Hopefully we haven't reached a point of no return when that realization finally hits.

Tags: lecture nu obesity