June 5, 2012

Government Intervention Will Not Solve Our Obesity Problem

Michael L. Marlow

Professor of Economics at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Sherzod Abdukadirov

Former Research Fellow
Summary

It is clear the United States is facing a rising obesity problem. But the challenge remains: We have yet to determine a successful way to tackle it. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled from 13.4 percent in 1960 to 34.3 percent in 2008. A new report released this month by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicts that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese and 11 percent will be severely obese, or 100 pounds overweight.

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This excerpt was originally published in U.S. News and World Report. Read the full text here.

It is clear the United States is facing a rising obesity problem. But the challenge remains: We have yet to determine a successful way to tackle it. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the prevalence of obesity among adults more than doubled from 13.4 percent in 1960 to 34.3 percent in 2008. A new report released this month by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine predicts that by 2030, 42 percent of Americans will be obese and 11 percent will be severely obese, or 100 pounds overweight.

Despite the myriad of studies showing American obesity is increasing, research does not clearly support that government can solve this complex problem. And yet, government solutions that provide information the public already knows—weight gain occurs when we eat too much and exercise too little—have been the focus to eliminate this epidemic.

Not only is this method not solving the problem, we may actually be increasing the social stigma associated with weight gain. Rather than pursuing a one-size-fits-all solution, we need to push back against government intervention, and allow people to find the solution that best meets their needs.

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