February 5, 2016

Obesity not a problem for politicos to solve

Sam Brownback doesn’t want to be just a governor.
He’s now auditioning for the role of nutritionist and personal trainer. At least, that’s how it appears judging from his appearance and speech during the Kansas Summit on Obesity last week.
It was a very, very strange spectacle for a conservative Governor who argues government isn’t the solution to every problem.
It makes us wonder just how serious the Governor is about addressing the state’s real problems, which include slimming down the state’s reach into the lives of its citizens.
The Governor issued a call to action asking small and large communities to offer their insights into ways to trim the waistlines of Kansans.
It seems an ironic sentiment to regularly express a desire to take government out of individuals’ pockets only to transfer the hand of bureaucrats to our plates.
Many of Brownback’s calls to assist in solving burgeoning bellies appear to require more money. He called for more spending on things like more walking trails and even horse trails. (Our question: Does this mean government will finally purchase those ponies we asked for in the seventh grade?)
Brownback suggested that the government strengthen the Complete Streets policy and Safe Routes to School program; promote water consumption; educate people on portion size; standardize fitness measures; incorporate more physical activity into classrooms through staff development; and expand school and community gardens. These suggested solutions all will lead eventually to requests for more funding.
And then there were the suggestions that sound like calls to regulation – for example, adopting land use policies that support community gardens and farmers’ markets; encourage personal responsibility; and improve access to affordable healthy foods for employees.
Obesity is, yes, a problem. But the solution isn’t to be found in government intervention. It’s a concern for the individual, not the collective.
At this critical juncture, Brownback and all politicians should be focused less on what people put in their mouths, and more on how people find work to put food on the table.


  1. The only thing correct about this article is obesity is not a problem for politicos to solve. It is a problem that policy makers, health care professionals, food industry, and consumers have to solve. That is the “collective” required to solve this problem. Healthcare professionals have stated and widely published that obesity is an epidemic in America. Obesity leads to a whole host of other diseases such as diabetes, stroke, hypertension, and heart disease which are costing American billions of dollars every year.

    It is not just a result of poor choices by individuals. For decades, the food industry has been producing and marketing food that is great tasting but highly processed, high in calories, and low in nutrients. Only recently has there been pushback from doctors, nurses, and dieticians who are on the front lines and see the result of supersizing the American consumer. The publication of nutrition content of food and truth in labeling have been fought by the food industry for years. But the consumer and healthcare professional are slowly winning war. Today it is relatively easy to find out nutritional content of food. But it is not easy enough. Today, in Gardner, there are fast food restaurants which sell a hamburger, small fries, and small coke that totals to 1,740 calories (almost the total calories an adult women should have in a whole day or almost 75% of the calories of an adult male in a whole day).

    Our government has a role to play, and that is in advocacy, education, and regulation. The consumer is not a match for the juggernaut of any industry’s marketing campaign. An educated consumer can make informed decisions, which usually leads to better choices. So let the food industry produce wonderfully tasty crap, just tell the consumer what is in it. Consumers! Indulge yourself once in awhile; but don’t make wonderfully tasty crap your main meal all the time.

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