Columnist George Will Calls Attention to Obesity Epidemic
In a Washington Post opinion piece, Syndicated columnist George Will lends his support to a recent surgeon general's report on the health implications of obesity. Will writes that Former U.S. Surgeon General David Satcher's warning, "properly amplified, may demonstrate why the office of surgeon general sometimes is the government's most cost-effective institution," as "often the most cost-effective dollars government spends pay for the dissemination of public health information." Will compares and contrasts two "optional" public health problems in America -- smoking and obesity -- and cites Satcher's recent report, which found that obesity may soon pass smoking as the country's principal cause of preventable death. While smoking-related illnesses kill 400,000 Americans each year, obesity-related illnesses kill 300,000, and incidence is increasing at a faster rate than smoking-related deaths. Since 1964, when the surgeon general released a report connecting smoking with cancer, the percentage of Americans who smoke has fallen from 50% to 25%. Will cites CDC statistics showing that in 1991, "only four states had obesity rates of 15% or higher. Today, 37 do." Will, who lists the rise in popularity of fast food as a contributing factor in the obesity epidemic, concludes by saying that while "food fascists are among the most annoying killjoys in our midst," before readers "tuc[k]" into another "double cheeseburger with bacon," they should calculate their body mass index (Will, Washington Post, 2/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.