Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Food for Thought

In the news, researchers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are advocating taxing foods like pizza and soda pop in an effort to decrease obesity among Americans.

Given my education in the exercise and nutritional sciences one would think I'd be turning cartwheels at such a brilliant suggestion by such esteemed scientists.

Far from turning cartwheels, however, instead I'm shaking my head at the latest manifestation of scientist advocated intrusion into our personal lives. Apparently, these scientists and the lawmakers that buy into their tax-fat rhetoric have little to no faith in Americans' ability to face and overcome the growing obesity-related problems in the way they have overcome problems for over two hundred years: by hard work and the grace of God.

Whatever happened to that indomitable American spirit which enabled our forefathers and foremothers to break free from monarchical tyranny and establish a new nation, abolish the barbarism of slavery, and fight for the survival of democracy and freedom in this land and around the world? Whatever happened to the American work ethic which fostered the industrial and agricultural revolutions, landed our astronauts on the moon, and tamed a wild and oft times barren American continent?

In short, have we come so far from the American ideal that we are no longer masters of our own fate or captains of our own souls? Must Congress decide for us how to control our obesity problems?

Perhaps this thought by Elder D. Todd Christofferson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can offer insight into the crux of the matter: "Self-discipline has eroded and societies are left to try to maintain order and civility [and citizens' health] by compulsion. The lack of internal control by individuals breeds external control by governments." (Source)

Our problem isn't the fact that pizza and soda pop exist and are widely available and aggravatingly delicious. Our problem is that we have diminished self-discipline, a lack of internal control.

Americans everywhere, Rise up! Claim that glorious heritage bequeathed to you. Pursue the American dream. Accept responsibility for your actions, including the act of eating. Realize that we are free to choose but we are not free to choose the consequences.

Understand that in this universe governed by immutable laws that there is no getting around the laws of thermodynamics: If you put calories into the body they will either be put to use to keep you alive and well or they will be stored, primarily as fat.

And finally, for those who are able to enjoy pizza and soda pop responsibly, tell the scientists to get to work solving world hunger and the lawmakers to find a way to reduce the national debt and to stop trying to make food more expensive than it already is.


Deb said...


Whitney Hardie said...

Wow Nate. A very passionate case you make - and very inspiring. Suddenly I feel a new resolve to eat better and exercise more...to honor my great American heritage.


Karen and Merrill said...

Well said!

Nicoe Mauerman said...

I read through this post and thought you make a compelling argument, although I have to disagree. I too would love for people to take personal responsibility, but after spending four years in public health I have realized that money is a key (if not the biggest) motivator. Smoking is the best example. When the price of cigarettes is raised (almost always due to tax increases) smoking cessation products fly off the shelves and we see a dip in the smoking rate. Junk food is cheap, and people buy this food because it's cheap. I don't know if adding a tax to junk food is the answer, but obesity is an epidemic, and we all struggle with how to solve it. Thanks for the thoughts!

tracy said...

i think this tax is a fabulous idea! The growing rate of obesity in America is alarming, with almost a third of the population falling in to the catagory...and that doesn't include the "Overweight" catagory. Annnd, the weight charts are very forgiving.

Until people get off their lazy bums, get some exercise and eat healthier (and you know with some, this is never going to happen), i say tax it! And, yes, people, get used to being hungry sometimes, it won't kill you!