I agree with Michelle Obama. Kindof. I agree that the rising levels of obesity, heart disease and diabetes in this nation are troubling. Physical health is important to preserving a nation’s vitality. However, the progressive concept of government-led health programs (espoused by people like the First Lady and Michael Bloomberg) is not the most logical solution. If anything, it is dangerous to both our health and our freedom. Yet, it is not enough to simply criticize the liberal war on obesity. It’s important to provide an alternative. What if conservatives were in charge of combating this nation’s obesity epidemic? Then, what would our policies look like?
For liberals and progressives concerned with this nation’s health (and rightfully so), government is always the answer. Shoveling money into programs like “Let’s Move,” banning unhealthy foods, and nudging Americans into eating healthy with subtle menu changes all fit into this plan. At its core, this plan is not even about health. It’s about control and as evidenced in a 2011 study from the British Medical Journal, the liberal war against obesity does not have a drastic impact on national health. People who respond to these nanny state policies by avoiding unhealthy food (whether it’s their choice or not) are not necessarily doing so because they are concerned with health. For example, I doubt many people in New York are going to avoid buying a 64 ounce Dr. Pepper because they’re concerned with calories. They will buy a smaller size simply because the 64 ounc-er isn’t available. It’s likely that when this regulation is inevitably eliminated, New Yorkers will run towards Big Gulps once again.
You want to know the secret weapon against obesity? Well here it is: Personal responsibility. When did we become a nation where eating well and exercising was too difficult? If eating a cheeseburger a day will make you fat, then don’t eat a cheeseburger a day. If you are unable to maintain a degree of self-control and a healthy lifestyle without the government’s help, then you’ve got a bigger problem on your hands. It’s not that I’m saying losing weight is easy. It is simply too complex to be universally covered by a one-size-fits-all government program. Some people struggle with health problems because of mental health issues. Others have hormonal imbalances. Some just simply haven’t developed a sense of self-control. Whatever the reason, the deeper issues that lead to an individual’s weight issues need to be addressed by a health professional. They cannot be alleviated by calorie counts on a menu or smaller soda sizes.
While liberals are apt to claim that big businesses and capitalistic food supplies looking for a quick profit are the cause of the nation’s obesity epidemic, I tend to disagree. Most of the health problems in this nation are driven by a cultural decline. One hundred years ago, America was not the “pleasure-seeking” nation that we are today. We have become a nation where immediate gratification is praised and people just want the “easy way out.” Many run towards a quick fix; an option our government is more than willing to provide. Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no “easy way out” when it comes to weight loss and health. It takes hard work and personal responsibility, characteristics that are less praised in our culture today. Don’t hand your freedom over to the government if you want to lose a couple pounds. It’s not worth it. It is naïve to turn to the government in search of an answer to our nation’s health crisis. Instead, look to yourself. Healthy lifestyles are propelled by internal, individual decisions. They cannot be artificially constructed by an external government program. Individual choices and personal responsibility succeed in propelling long term success. Government band-aids do not.