The obesity epidemic strikes again

Jim Henley, in the midst of a Den Bestean sized post on fitness, makes a salient point about the so-called 'Obesity Epidemic':

If you hit the Cheesecake Factory every week, or every night, and balloon accordingly, then you have bought too many things. If you're going to bind over the blame for your extra slices of dessert to the evil corporation selling it to you, what other of your responsibilities are you going to bind over to them? Your finances? Your love life? Because I gotta tell you, the people working at the Cheesecake Factory seemed nice enough, but that doesn't mean I want to appoint them my guardian.

You are a customer, and as a customer you must purchase, in coin or opportunity costs, that which will provide you with the best balance of satisfactions - emotional, ethical, financial, medical, esthetic.

Related issue: it is certainly true that you mustn't trust corporations. You mustn't trust the government either. But you can't necessarily trust "individuals" because "Many individual people are not trying to sell you anything." This is a paradox of anti-market thinking. People accuse market liberals of only caring about money, only judging things on the basis of what sells, reducing everything to a commodity and so on. And then they construe economy as nothing more than monetary exchange.


Trust yourself - insofar as you put an effort into it. You are a customer. Comparison-shop ideas from the fitness industry, the diet industry, the public health bureaucracy and cranks on the web. Become capable of arriving at a reasoned judgment on the strains of the cacophony.

The alternative is to embarrass yourself, to publically declare, I am an infantile personality incapable of taking responsibility for my own actions! as "public interest" attorney John Banzhaf and his restaurant-suing clients do. A sane society would laugh such lawsuits out of court. As a compromise, we could allow them to proceed if the attorneys and plaintiffs agreed to wear footie pajamas and visibly teethe in court.

Indeed! As a consequence of human action and choice, these individuals became obese. It is not the fault of the Cheesecake Factory or any other outlet that these people chose to consume to the point of obesity or morbid obesity. McDonald's isn't some sort of shady 'pusher' dealing fat and empty calories on the corner, preying on the innocent, and there certainly weren't Kubrickian organizations tying these individuals into chairs and force feeding them Whoppers until they expanded to 400 lbs. No, each bite was a choice; they voluntarily exchanged cash for calories.

It's high time that the courts agreed with Jim and laughed this sort of thing out of their chambers. Of course, this is a case where a statute preventing such nuisance lawsuits would come in handy (and where common law is unlikely to come up with a solution quickly)...

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Several reports have

Several reports have recently demonstrated the drastic costs to our society due to obesity. The cost to our society is from Medicaid patients creating a burden on our taxpayers with obesity-related disease.
As it is in the United States, obesity is a problem in Europe, too -- in part because Europeans are eating more like Americans.
The percentage of obese British adults was reported to be three times what it was just two decades ago, the fastest-growing rate in Western Europe. An estimated 21 percent of men and 23.5 percent of women are now considered obese, compared with 27 percent of men and 34 percent of women in America. The Brits recently had an appealing idea to deny public health care to patients who refused advice to lose weight. Of course, that won't happen there or here.