Why Congress Won't Face the Fat Problem

Lawmakers fear giving US 'bad news'—especially while munching Doritos
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jul 30, 2009 11:10 AM CDT
Health secretary Kathleen Sebelius shakes hands with the Senate Finance Committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, left, as committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., looks on.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Congress is “in denial” on one key health issue: obesity, writes Lisa Lerer for Politico. Obesity-related illnesses reportedly cost $147 billion, or 10% of medical spending, last year—and lawmakers say they’re focused on cost-cutting. But, experts say, “no one wants to tell Americans the bad news.” Notes one professor: “We haven’t come to grips with whether it is their own fault or a combination of factors.”

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t see attacking obesity as a way to save, hurting “political will” on the matter. There’s also hypocrisy among legislators: Senate Finance Committee members discuss health reform over “Doritos, potato chips and beef jerky.” Some wonder how much input the government should have on what’s to varying degrees a personal-responsibility issue. Another hurdle: the difficulty of going up against the powerful food lobby.