Ayn Rand Institute Press Release
Beware the Obesity Alarmists
August 11, 2008
Irvine, CA--A new study on America's "obesity epidemic" projects that if trends of the past thirty years continue, every American could be overweight by 2048. Warning that this epidemic could impose hundreds of billions of dollars in health-care costs on Americans, obesity activists are urging coercive measures to curb obesity, such as forcing the fast food industry to offer healthier fare.
"No doubt the obesity alarmists will use this study's far-fetched conclusion to try to scare us into giving up more of our freedom," said Don Watkins, a writer for the Ayn Rand Institute. "What their arguments spotlight, however, is not a need to curtail freedom, but to expand it.
"In warning us of the massive 'social costs' imposed by obesity, the obesity alarmists fail to ask a crucial question: Why are we footing the bill for other people's health care in the first place? The answer is that the government forces us to. Through paternalistic welfare state programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, and through the government-imposed employer-based health insurance system, government relieves the individual of the financial burden of his own health care, and passes the buck on to the rest of us.
"If the government then begins to dictate how many cookies we can eat, or what food McDonald's can sell, it would compound that injustice: using a problem caused by paternalism to justify more paternalism.
"Of course it should worry us if millions of Americans are becoming unhealthily overweight. Those who are genuinely concerned should try to persuade people to eat better and exercise. What we must not do is let the state assume coercive control over diets and food supplies.
"We may or may not be suffering from an obesity epidemic, but there is no question we face an epidemic of paternalism. And for that the solution is simple: more freedom."
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Ayn Rand Institute experts are available for interviews on this topic.
Contact: Larry Benson
Phone: (949) 222-6550, ext. 213
Founded in 1985, the Ayn Rand Institute promotes the philosophy of Ayn Rand, author of "Atlas Shrugged" and "The Fountainhead."