Our problem with obesity has reached a point where it is becoming obvious that all of us are eating too much and a change is needed. More food has saved us from starvation and many of the diseases associated with malnutrition have disappeared. In their place we have gotten fat and diabetes has become a national problem.
How best to solve this problem? The time available to most families for cooking has diminished and with husbands and wives both working, the food industry has been trying their best to provide us with tasty easily prepared foods. The better tasting foods are usually higher in calories but they have made it easy to find tasty calorie rich nourishment. In addition to the ready and easily prepared foods we also have a beverage industry that does their best to provide calorie rich drinks. All of us as well as our kids are getting more to eat than is required to sustain them. Solving this problem is a difficult one and we can go at it two ways. We can try to cut the food intake by trying to regulate what can be sold and if more is needed taxing some items. Taxing is not easy. When times are good the government collects more taxes than they need and very easily find the means to spend all that comes in. It has probably been of some help in cutting cigarette smoking, but the tax on alcohol has not changed our intake. The other means of providing some relief from the obesity problem is to increase the activity that each individual does. Marathon runners can eat large quantities and remain fit. In our daily lives we have managed to avoid walking and we park as close to the stores as is possible even if we have to circle the parking lot three times to get closer. School children usually are sport spectators and are not involved in any activity that requires physical motion. Rather than taxing soft drinks, it might be better to limit television and computer games. Physical activity is a valuable tool in weight management. The way we live as well as the way we eat are major factors in the obesity problem.
All us as physicians who still have some contact with their patients could help this problem. Unfortunately our contact with our patients precludes this type of activity although in the long run it might do more to help our population than addressing the problem with legislation and taxation.