What the Right (and Left) Get Wrong in the Obesity War

Choice is great—but we're making the wrong ones, writes Cathy Young

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Dec 13, 2010 1:34 PM CST

(Newser) – As Michelle Obama and Congress champion efforts to fight childhood obesity, the right, led by Sarah Palin and Fox News, is angrily firing back. While some of their concerns are fair—that healthy-eating messaging can escalate into “propaganda,” for example—others suggest “a reality check is in order,” writes Cathy Young at RealClearPolitics. "For the right, 'my body, my choice' means not only that the government shouldn't be able to ban your favorite junk food or ship you off to a fat-farm gulag, but that you should be able to gorge yourself into obesity without having to endure societal disapproval or lectures from do-gooders." But the anti-obesity campaign is about “persuasion,” not “coercion.”

"Parents have the right to decide what their children eat—but let's not pretend that many of them don't make woefully bad decisions." To wit, a third of American kids are overweight, and almost 20% are obese. "Personal choice is a fine thing; but not every choice deserves to be celebrated," argues Young, who closes by pointing out an irony: The right's "anti-food police" movement is a cousin of the left's "fat acceptance" movement. "True, the cult of thinness poses its own health risks. It is equally true that no one, adult or child, should be treated cruelly because of body weight. But the answer is not to go to the other extreme and normalize, if not glamorize, obesity or the lifestyle choices that create it."

"The ultra-libertarian opposition is reinforced by a populist one which regards healthy, low-calorie food as elitist and effete, and hot dogs, Big Macs ... as the mark of real Americans."   (?meshmar2)
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In some ways, the conservative backlash seems to be more about politicking than principle. - Cathy Young

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