Americans Addicted to Food

The normally sober George Will seems to have lost his marbles over corn. His latest column makes the discovery that America has figured out how to make almost endless amounts of food at a very low price. Mr Will thinks that this is bad because cheap food allows people to eat too much of it. If you eat too much you get fat, If you get fat your health may suffer. Wow! What a discovery. Stop the presses or whatever passes for them on the internet.

Will invokes Tom Vilsack Iowa’s former governor and current Secretary of Agriculture throughout his screed. While he doesn’t come out and say it he strongly implies that the government should do something about overeating and overproducing of food. I’d have thought that he’d value the latter but he thinks we have too much corn and beef and that we can’t be trusted with this abundance. This from a conservative.

You’d better put a lock on your refrigerator and cupboard, not to keep yourself from pigging out but to keep the government inspectors away. What inspectors? Well if George Will thinks the government should do something about overeating what will the current administration do about the fat problem? The FBI will become Fat Bureau of Investigation.

We already have weigh stations for trucks. Why not have them for people as well. If you’re walking down the street the FBI can haul you aside and weigh you. If your BMI is over 25 you’ll be fined $100 for every number over 25. Fines will double at 30 and triple at 35. OK, I know nobody walks, so we’ll put weigh stations on the roads and get the food transgressors on the way to the supermarket. We could even put scales at the checkout counter. Let no pound go uncounted.

Restaurant use obviously needs more government regulation. We could have a free market solution by instituting a cap and trade food coupon program. If you want to go to MacDonalds and have used up all your food coupons you could buy them from some anorexic teenager who still has all of hers. Let capitalism reign supreme.

So we’ve added food addiction to our addiction to energy. The finale of the second law of thermodynamics (the nasty one that requires the ultimate heat death of the universe) can’t come too soon for those obsessed by the latter. What’s next? The answer to that one is obvious. Water addiction.

Most of the world is short or soon will be short of water. Everyone knows, well not everyone – doctors, well not all doctors – nephrologists, that most people drink more water than they need. Typical fluid intake by American adults is about two liters. They could get by on 600 ml if they stayed cool and didn’t exercise too much. Ah, but now we have a problem. We don’t want people to stay too cool. Air conditioning, energy use, greenhouse gases. If they don’t exercise they’ll get fat and will need more government intervention. But if they do exercise they’ll get thirsty and drink more. We might need a blue ribbon commission. Then we can ration fluid intake appropriately.

The 800 pound gorilla that no one dares bring up but which will crush the life out of us if we don’t confront it is — air addiction. Every time you or anything animal breathes it emits carbon dioxide. OK it’s out in the open. Too much breathing and the polar bears die. George Will the ball is in your court.

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One Response to Americans Addicted to Food

  1. Russ Goldstein says:

    Dr. Kurtzman,

    What George Will was saying in his “screed” is that government subsidies and the like, from well intentioned people in the US Government, actually have CAUSED the very health issues that they now want to help us to solve.

    This somewhat sarcastic piece is very consistent with his conservative positions that government often brings about the exact opposite of stated intentions while meddling in affairs best left to individuals and markets.

    I trust that, like you, he believes that individuals and their personal physicians can do a pretty good job of identifying how best to handle health matters than a team of bureaucrats in the drained swamp in DC.

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