Yeah, that’ll work.
No, it’s not really the stocks that David Callahan, former Harvard lecturer and president emeritus of health policy think-tank the Hastings Center, is asking for. He:
…calls for increased stigmatization of obese people to try spur weight-loss across America.
The senior research scholar says fat people should be treated like smokers who have become increasingly demonized in recent years and thus ‘nudged’ by negative attitudes of those around them into giving up the unhealthy habit.
There’s a lot going on these in that single suggestion. First and foremost, we have the increased empowerment of the do-good-nanny-state police who’ve received so much support recently from Obama, Bloomberg, and the like.
Second, we have a profound misunderstanding of how weight loss works:
…health and obesity experts have criticized Callahan’s paper branding him ignorant and irresponsible
Dr Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor at the University of Ottawa and an author on obesity, told MailOnline: “The one thing that’s not lacking in society is the stigmatization of people with obesity.
“If guilt and shame were sufficient to fuel long term weight management, the world would be a very skinny place indeed. Obesity is mulch-factorial and driven by the world in which we live.”
Callahan’s article itself is well worth reading for a look into the Brave New World we face if the health police have their way—and they are increasingly having their way. I make the reference to Huxley’s dystopia purposely; it is not at all far-fatched. Most of Callahan’s article shows an interesting combination of bad science and coercive politics, a winning combination in which he details the seemingly-intractable problem—that nothing we do seems to help overweight, except for a few individual outliers who manage to lose weight and keep it off—and then offers a fairly alarming solution (government “nudging”) without any evidence that it might work either, except a false analogy to smoking, a problem with a very different mechanism.
Not to mention the fact that there’s a fair amount of evidence that being overweight (not obese, but overweight) is not a health problem at all—and you have a perfect storm of non-science plus leftist social engineering masquerading as science. Here’s a little sample of the article to give you a taste of its flavor [emphasis mine; as well as correcting multiple spelling errors]:
I believe only the government’s power to tax, to regulate, and on occasion to come close to mild coercion would be sufficient to make a difference. The private sector could have a role to play by voluntary self-regulation and incentive programs, but that could likely be done only in ways that would not financially hurt industry or alienate its customers. Yet fully deploying government power has been difficult politically. Not only does industry oppose regulation, but there are political limits to how much government can do to change individual behavior—whether by limiting television viewing, requiring exercise, or restraining market forces…
It will be no less necessary to find ways to bring strong social pressure to bear on individuals, going beyond anodyne education and low-key exhortation. It will be imperative, first, to persuade them that they ought to want a good diet and exercise for themselves and for their neighbor and, second, that excessive weight and outright obesity are not socially acceptable any longer. They need as well to be mobilized as citizens to support a more invasive role for government. Obesity is in great part a refection of the kind of culture we have, one that is permissive about how people take care of their bodies and accepts many if not most of the features of our society that contribute to the problem. There has to be a popular uprising when so many aspects of our common lives, individually and institutionally, must be changed more or less simultaneously. Safe and slow incrementalism that strives never to stigmatize obesity has not and cannot do the necessary work.
This isn’t really about overweight, is it? It’s not even about science, since it doesn’t rest on science. It’s about one out of many increasing inroads on personal liberty in the name of public health—a public health that, as the government becomes more involved in health care insurance and therefore in health care itself, will afford the health policemen such as Callahan more and more opportunities for government power and intrusion into our lives in the name of furthering that health.
I’ll close with a passage from Brave New World, just to refresh your memory (before the book is banned as subversive):
“Isn’t there something in living dangerously?’
There’s a great deal in it,’ the Controller replied. ‘Men and women must have their adrenals stimulated from time to time.’
What?’ questioned the Savage, uncomprehending.
It’s one of the conditions of perfect health. That’s why we’ve made the V.P.S. treatments compulsory.’
Violent Passion Surrogate. Regularly once a month. We flood the whole system with adrenin. It’s the complete physiological equivalent of fear and rage. All the tonic effects of murdering Desdemona and being murdered by Othello, without any of the inconvenience.’
But I like the inconveniences.’
We don’t,’ said the Controller. ‘We prefer to do things comfortably.’
But I don’t want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin.’
In fact,’ said Mustapha Mond, ‘you’re claiming the right to be unhappy. Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer, the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen tomorrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind.’ There was a long silence.
I claim them all,’ said the Savage at last.
Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. ‘You’re welcome,’ he said.”