Last week the American Medical Association (AMA) officially declared obesity a disease. The political and social motivations behind this are obvious. Obesity has become a scourge on our nation with at least a third of Americans affected. As waistlines continue to expand, fat is well on its way to displacing tobacco as the number one cause of preventable deaths in our country.
Put simply, we are eating ourselves to death. And although there are a myriad of medical strategies for reversing obesity, most don’t work very well, and they all come with significant risks or side effects. The best way to fix obesity is to avoid it.
Unfortunately there’s not a pill for that. Avoidance is going to require us to carefully re-evaluate our relationship to food. Which brings me to a less trumpeted, but equally important decree – authored by a physician from Minnesota – that came from the AMA this week: A call for the US Department of Agriculture to review the health impact of the $20 billion worth of subsidies in the Farm Bill before it doles out any of the money.
That’s right, physicians want the Department of Ag. to account for the health-impact of their own policies. It sounds pretty reasonable to me. This step alone will not cure obesity in America, but it might lead to a bit more thought before using taxpayer dollars that subsidize the ingredients in junk food.
The AMA got me thinking that I should step up too and challenge the way we deal with food in this country. Consider this the first installment.