Does anything sound less fun and more ominous than an ‘Obesity Summit’?
Nonetheless it exists, was it held last week, and people attended it, refreshed by sparkling water and slivers of carrot, no doubt.
Judging by the outcome of the summit it was entirely populated by do-gooder, penny-pinching public-health pseudofascists.
Successfully pushing the previous government to force a star-rating nutritional labelling system, as though clear information about the nutritional makeup of food is somehow unclear to poor, unthinking, silly Australians, was never going to be enough.
Helen Rittelmeyer at the Centre for Independent Studies identifies the two key policies the neo-prohibitionist health elite are going to direct their subsidy-gathering, law-seeking efforts towards. Firstly:
John Funder, head of Obesity Australia, says that the proposed GP guidelines would force patients to hop on the scales any time they visit a GP, even if they originally came in ‘because they’ve got a cold or a broken toe.’ The idea is to embolden doctors to raise the awkward subject of weight loss,
Quite apart from the fact these people seem to think weight is a problem with a moral dimension to it (hint: it’s not), weighing people who don’t need weighing is a waste of time – and thus public resources.
Anyone who has ever been to a bulk-billing clinic will know that time is a resource that most doctors simply don’t have enough of to waste on unnecessary activities.
Further, how can we not trust the doctors whom we trust with our health to be able to decide when measuring a patient’s weight is useful or necessary?
In fact, for people who already have an unhealthy obsession with their weight and size, such a policy would be highly traumatic. People who have been harangued about their excess weight (real or imagined) and feel the pressure from all corners to diet extremely could be pushed into – surprise – extreme and harmful dieting when routinely obsessing over the weight of other people is no longer restricted to marketing, celebrity magazines, or extremely rude people. In the other direction, people suffering from or trying to recover from restrictive eating disorders would find the such a practice extremely torturous. Focusing on measuring weight is the opposite of helpful for these people – or for people whose relationship with food at weight might not meet the criteria for disorder, but causes them significant distress.
It almost sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment.
Of course, harassing people is never enough for the public health tyrants – one must always harass the government for more and more and more of the taxpayer’s money.
The second main policy push at the summit was a campaign to get the Australian Medical Association (AMA) to label obesity a ‘disease.’ The American Medical Association officially designated obesity a disease in June, but here in Australia the AMA has been reluctant to follow suit.
Calling obesity a disease sounds like a kind-hearted and non-judgmental way to reassure the overweight that their condition does not necessarily indicate a moral failing. But this policy push has nothing to do with overweight Australians’ self-esteem and everything to do with obtaining government subsidies for ‘stomach stapling’ and other bariatric surgeries.
Ah, there we go – the familiar demand that the costs of gaining weight until doctors decide you are not responsible enough to leave your stomach at it’s natural (if expanded) size must be spread onto everyone.
Fat is not a moral problem – spreading the cost of obesity onto everyone and beyond the obese is.
Worse, the more that treatments for obesity and the health conditions it causes are medicalised and accepted as valid costs to the public health system, the greater more ammunition the mean-spiritied, self-aggrandizing health-proselytizing do-gooders will have to demand regulation after regulation after regulation, using the rationale that obesity is a cost to the public health system.
It’s a cycle we’ve seen played out again and again – simply look at alcohol and tobacco.
It’s almost like these people know exactly what they’re doing, and are fine with it.
After all, it’s not a real public health summit unless their greedy little beaks are open and chirping for cash or tittering for laws.