Friday, August 22, 2008

Force Needed to Get Altruist's Utopia

In the same edition of the Detroit Free Press as my last post, is an article pointing out that "Michigan No. 10 in obesity". My initial reaction to such stories is usually So what? But this short news story demonstrates the antagonism of 2 NGOs' altruistic agenda to individual rights. First it tells us the statistics:
"For the five years ending in 2007, waistlines in Michigan have slowly expanded with nearly two-thirds of the state needing to lose weight. According to state data and the report, titled "F as in Fat," 27.7% of state residents are obese, and 36% are overweight."
First, I want to point out how routinely obesity and overweight are equated in the media. The above headline "Michigan No. 10 in obesity" was on the front page. The continuation on page 5 has the headline "State makes top ten in overweight." No it didn't. The first headline was accurate. Also, these figures are a far cry from the alleged national average of 60% of Americans being obese often touted in the media.

The article then admits:
"Two positive policies adopted by the state include a Web-based healthy lifestyle portal called Michigan Steps Up, www.mfia.state.mi.us/surGeneral/. Since its inception, about 25,600 people have created online healthy eating profiles, said state Department of Community Health spokesman James McCurtis."
But alas, such voluntary advice programs just aren't enough:
"But for all the forward thinking, said Dr. James Marks, the foundation's senior vice president, without adequate funding in a state with a long-troubled economy, the programs can only help so much."
This of course is a plea for government looted tax dollars. But wait. There's more:
"'Permissive legislation without action doesn't get it done,' he said."(bold mine)
So advising people and 'permitting' them make their own decisions will not provide us with our utopia. We must take 'action' to get our ideal world in which everyone looks like Barbie and Ken.

We next learn something about the study:
"The study gathers self-reported height and weight information from a large national behavior survey. The authors calculate body-mass index from the weight-height measurements. Those with BMIs of 30 or higher are considered obese, and those with BMIs between 25 and 30 are considered overweight."
Studies that use self-reported data are notoriously unreliable as the article admits, to a degree. The BMI is unreliable too as it was put together in a somewhat arbitrary manner.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a tax exempt charity which regularly lobbies congress on behalf of some of its biggest donors. They would be makers of weight loss machinery and equipment, drug companies selling weight loss pills and publishers pushing diet and weight loss advice. I have no problem with these companies selling, even hyping their wares but I very much resent them lobbying government through RWJF to force me to buy their products.

I have to wonder how many Michiganders read this article and saw nothing wrong with it or even felt a little unearned guilt.

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