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The growth of America’s government may soon be outpaced by growth of the average waistline new indicators reveal. Rates of obesity have been increasing over the past several decades, but are now reaching some incredible levels. Currently it's estimated that well over one-third of adults are classified as obese and nearly two-thirds are classified as overweight. Perhaps more distressing is the recent discovery that one in six children are suffering from obesity.
Voices in Congress are now calling for action to take on the growing epidemic, but as usual the government’s so called solution fails to address the root of the problem.
The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act is the latest reincarnation of a bipartisan effort to alter how the federal government handles obesity. Advocates claim that by expanding funding for weight reduction focused medication that obesity can finally be defeated.
In actuality the bill is little more than a cash grab by pharmaceutical companies who have been lobbying Democratic leadership for years for another expansion of the deeply flawed Medicare Part D. Even if the bill is passed it will have only a marginal impact on national health and actually increase healthcare spending according to the government’s own estimates.
So if increasing corporate welfare to politically connected pharmaceutical companies won’t defeat obesity, what will? Reducing corporate welfare to politically connected agricultural companies.
Congress is in a committed love affairs with major agriculture corporations and has been for years. Every year, billions of dollars are funneled to major firms that produce select crops, notably corn and soy. Subsidies to corn, as it turns out, incentivize over production of the crop, which in turns leads the industry to attempt and find a use for the excess product.
More often than not, large quantities of corn, or its byproducts, are turned into junk food with little to no nutritional value. Agricultural subsidies, in their current form, are in effect creating and fueling the obesity epidemic in America.
The unsavory consequences of these policies have been widely studied and been made readily available to lawmakers. Leaders in other industrialized nations have taken note and are not facing the same magnitude of issues surrounding weight in their nations.
By interfering in the market process and providing artificial incentives to create unhealthy products lawmakers are directly culpable in the rising rates of obesity and related health problems. Creating an artificial demand for low nutritional food has flooded the market with low quality products that are a major contributor to the current public health crisis. In effect Congress is choosing to prioritize corporate profits over the nation’s health.
If Congressional leaders are serious about reducing the burgeoning rates of obesity facing the country they will abandon crony projects like the Treat And Reduce Obesity Act and go after the root of the problem. Corporate welfare and crony capitalism are literally killing Americans in mass by artificially inflating the market with unhealthy food, expanding the handouts to more industries will not solve the problem.
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