Americans waistlines are becoming increasingly supersized - no surprise, right? But a new survey finds the costs of obesity to individuals and the country is also supersized – accounting for nearly $150 billion a year in medical costs – double what they were 10 years ago.

The government is hoping to get a handle on the increasing number of X’s being added to XL at it’s first ever ‘Weight of the Nation’ conference. FOX5 in D.C. has the government’s diet plan.

“They are looking now at not just what the individual can do, must do, but they’re looking at what public policy can do, what can we as a community do, what can we as a social order do in order to mitigate this problem.”

We’ve researched different media perspectives on whether this new top down, policy approach will work and what a skinnier U.S. will look like.

CBS starts us off with what to expect from the government after the conference.

“Among the new programs the CDC is pushing - new ways to make sure healthy food and beverages are available and affordable and encouraging communities to find new ways to promote physical activity.”

For a satirical look, The Onion takes a jab at a policy-enforced slim down with it’s article,

‘Study: Abstinence-Only Lunch Programs Ineffective at Combating Teen Obesity’

“Let's face it: Kids are already eating. And not only during lunchtime. They're eating after school, at the mall, in their parents' basements. Pretending like it's not happening isn't going to make it go away.”

On a more positive note, CNBC’s Closing Bell highlights the perspective of Michael Milken from think tank the Milken Institute. Milken says economically, if we solve obesity we’ll solve other problems too.  

“If everyone in America lost weight and returned to the same weight levels of 1991, we would save $1 trillion dollars we would cover all the uninsured and we would be able to quadruple the money for medical research.”

Bridgette Russell of the New Mexico Independent says government is the last place we should go for diet advice because at the end of the day self-discipline is the only road to a six-pack.

“Nutritional counseling will teach people…blueberries are good, while blueberry flavored Hostess pies are bad, but it can’t make them go into the grocery store, buy the berries, wash them and eat them when they really just want to run into the mini-mart while their gas is pumping and grab that pie.”

But New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert refutes Russell’s cynicism - suggesting ideas for government policy like taxing soda and fatty foods so people have to pay more to eat badly is the solution.

“The problem goes even beyond the corporate interests that have brought us “eatertaining” foods, Value Meals, and oceans of high-fructose corn syrup. Collecting the maximum number of calories with the least amount of effort is, after all, the dream of every creature, including those too primitive to dream. With the BK™ Quad Stacker - four beef patties, four pieces of bacon, and four slices of cheese for $4.99 - man edges close to realizing this ambition. And that’s without the fries.”

Kolbert adds the following expert theories on why Americans are so fat - our larger brains need more energy, bad foods are cheaper, portions are supersized and food is now both addictive and quote “eatertaining”.

What do you think about the supersizing of the U.S.? Will the government be able to effect change through policy?

The Weight of Weight

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Jul 28, 2009

The Weight of Weight

Americans waistlines are becoming increasingly supersized - no surprise, right? But a new survey finds the costs of obesity to individuals and the country is also supersized – accounting for nearly $150 billion a year in medical costs – double what they were 10 years ago.

The government is hoping to get a handle on the increasing number of X’s being added to XL at it’s first ever ‘Weight of the Nation’ conference. FOX5 in D.C. has the government’s diet plan.

“They are looking now at not just what the individual can do, must do, but they’re looking at what public policy can do, what can we as a community do, what can we as a social order do in order to mitigate this problem.”

We’ve researched different media perspectives on whether this new top down, policy approach will work and what a skinnier U.S. will look like.

CBS starts us off with what to expect from the government after the conference.

“Among the new programs the CDC is pushing - new ways to make sure healthy food and beverages are available and affordable and encouraging communities to find new ways to promote physical activity.”

For a satirical look, The Onion takes a jab at a policy-enforced slim down with it’s article,

‘Study: Abstinence-Only Lunch Programs Ineffective at Combating Teen Obesity’

“Let's face it: Kids are already eating. And not only during lunchtime. They're eating after school, at the mall, in their parents' basements. Pretending like it's not happening isn't going to make it go away.”

On a more positive note, CNBC’s Closing Bell highlights the perspective of Michael Milken from think tank the Milken Institute. Milken says economically, if we solve obesity we’ll solve other problems too.  

“If everyone in America lost weight and returned to the same weight levels of 1991, we would save $1 trillion dollars we would cover all the uninsured and we would be able to quadruple the money for medical research.”

Bridgette Russell of the New Mexico Independent says government is the last place we should go for diet advice because at the end of the day self-discipline is the only road to a six-pack.

“Nutritional counseling will teach people…blueberries are good, while blueberry flavored Hostess pies are bad, but it can’t make them go into the grocery store, buy the berries, wash them and eat them when they really just want to run into the mini-mart while their gas is pumping and grab that pie.”

But New Yorker writer Elizabeth Kolbert refutes Russell’s cynicism - suggesting ideas for government policy like taxing soda and fatty foods so people have to pay more to eat badly is the solution.

“The problem goes even beyond the corporate interests that have brought us “eatertaining” foods, Value Meals, and oceans of high-fructose corn syrup. Collecting the maximum number of calories with the least amount of effort is, after all, the dream of every creature, including those too primitive to dream. With the BK™ Quad Stacker - four beef patties, four pieces of bacon, and four slices of cheese for $4.99 - man edges close to realizing this ambition. And that’s without the fries.”

Kolbert adds the following expert theories on why Americans are so fat - our larger brains need more energy, bad foods are cheaper, portions are supersized and food is now both addictive and quote “eatertaining”.

What do you think about the supersizing of the U.S.? Will the government be able to effect change through policy?
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