Doctors weigh in on obesity
April 27, 2006
Doctors sat on a panel to discuss the issue of obesity in America during the Public Affairs Conference held at Missouri State University last week. While they all had different ideas, they could agree that something has to change soon.

“Obesity is a relatively new problem,” said Dr. William Jesse, from the University of Colorado and University of North Carolina.

Humans used to be hunter/gatherers and needed to store fat efficiently. This genetic trait that was so helpful in early human life has become a bad one to pass on in recent years.

Dr. Arthur Ammann, from the University of California, said that Americans don’t realize it’s an important health issue because the effects of obesity aren’t felt until years later. Because of this, the public needs to be convinced that it’s a problem and change their ways.

“People want to be healthy, but America is making it hard.” said Dr. John Seffrin, executive officer of the American Cancer Society. “We don’t have to raise healthcare, just spend it better.”

It’s also hard to be healthy because it’s profitable for a lot of companies for people to be obese, said Jesse. Not just fast food restaurants and candy bar factories, but also medical practices such as bariatric science.

This became easy to see, as one gentleman in the audience pointed out, when McDonald’s started putting restaurants in hospitals.

Seffrin said that other countries do better with healthcare with half of what we spend on it.

Ammann pointed out that there is no constitutional law on behavior, except when that behavior has a negative affect on you or others.

“We cannot outlaw obesity,” he said. We can, however, legislate the organizations that thrive from the issue.

Ammann suggested removing high salt content snacks from vending machines and lengthening the distance between bus stops on campus, as well as putting a higher tax on fatty foods, much like with alcohol and tobacco.

Jesse said we must try to realign economics and make it more profitable for people to be healthy.

He suggested a health test each time a company hires someone. If a new employee is 20 pounds over the healthy weight, there will be a $20 charge on his insurance.

The company should help its employees get healthy, said Jesse, because it is cheaper to insure healthy people.

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