I am astounded by how often, and intensely, political views enter the obesity debate. Conservatives rail against the "food police," and hammer on "personal responsibility" as the solution. (As a former 365-pounder with 20 years of diligence toward achieving and maintaining a normal-sized body, I know about personal responsibility, and agree that each of us needs to claim our own part.)
But I don't want to recapitulate the arguments today. I want to ask: Do you, whatever your political leanings, see a problem in the state of American physical fitness? Two of every three American adults are considered overweight or obese. That's 145 million people. One out of every three kids is obese, too. Is that a problem?
I say it is, in ways stretching from individual well-being to national security — how do you staff an army when, on average, a third of potential recruits are out of shape? What about the lost productivity and higher health costs borne by all?
If you think it's a problem, what do you propose to do about it? Is "people should take responsibility for their own actions" going to cover it? That was true yesterday, and the day before, and we're still the heaviest nation on earth.
I do think obesity is a problem, both individually and collectively. Accordingly, I think the solution is both individual and collective.