The Obama Administration keeps funding questionable programs to combat obesity by bringing fresh produce to poor areas, even as health experts concede the efforts are wasted—right along with hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars.
Consider this south Florida newspaper article focusing on how local nonprofits are spending federal money to bring fresh produce to poor areas to combat obesity. One county alone, Miami-Dade, got nearly $15 million from the feds and a chunk of it was used to bring fresh produce to areas considered “food deserts,” or low-income neighborhoods that lack markets with fresh produce found in more affluent areas.
The allocation is part of a $370 million stimulus-funded program to fight obesity in low-income neighborhoods. It’s also part of a much larger initiative, Michelle Obama’s outrageous $4.5 billion law to revolutionize the inner-city diet by providing fresh produce and grilled lean meats as alternatives to greasy, fried foods that tend to be more popular in low-income neighborhoods. As part of this effort the U.S. government spent $830 million to study obesity in 2011 and justify the creation of restrictive policies to control what Americans eat.
But the focus of the administration’s costly anti-obesity campaign has remained to tackle the “epidemic” in low-income neighborhoods by claiming that the poor are more likely to be obese because they have no access to healthy foods. This theory is wrong, according to experts quoted in the Florida newspaper article. “The idea of food deserts has nothing to do with obesity,” according to one researcher who authored a study that’s backed up by a series of others.
The study involved 13,000 children and found no correlation between kids’ obesity and access to fresh produce. In fact, the best predictor was the parents’ weight. This brings to mind that old cliché about the fruit not falling far from the tree. “You’re just not going to change behavior by offering more vegetables,” the expert, a highly regarded researcher, assures.
A separate study, published in 2011 in the Archives of Internal Medicine, found the same thing. It followed more than 5,000 people over 15 years and determined that greater supermarket availability had no correlation with how frequently people ate fruits and vegetables. This hasn’t stopped local officials from citing bogus statistics to obtain federal funds to combat “food deserts.” A top health official in Miami-Dade County wrote in a report that “research shows that better access to affordable, nutritious food is associated with healthier eating habits.”
Of interesting note is that the area featured in the news story isn’t even considered a food desert because it has a large, recently remodeled grocery store with a big produce department. The store, part of a major national chain, is located just 13 blocks from the taxpayer-funded farmer’s market in a crime-infested area of mostly black residents known as Liberty City.
With the First Lady as self-appointed czar, the Obama Administration is on a mission to eradicate obesity and has dedicated hundreds of millions of dollars to study the phenomena and justify the creation of restrictive policies to control what Americans eat.
It’s almost as bad as global warming. Just this week, at a conference in the nation’s capital, an army of public health officials warned that the U.S. will suffer an obesity crisis if Uncle Sam doesn’t intervene. Nearly half of the adult population will be obese by 2030, they revealed at the government-sponsored powwow (Weight of the Nation) which was clearly a forum to push the administration’s agenda.
A variety of health experts made a case for public policy initiatives—coincidentally, ones pushed by Michelle Obama—as a way to slow the rate of obesity. Specifically, those aimed at preventing childhood obesity. This happens to be the First Lady’s baby. Remember, how she got Congress to pass a $4.5 billion law to conquer childhood obesity? The measure was a must, according to Obama, because it’s the government’s duty to protect poor and ethnic minority communities that are overwhelmingly obese compared to their wealthier, white counterparts.
To avoid weight gain or even try to reverse it, the government would have to go beyond banning soda and sugary foods from school or bringing healthy cuisine to the inner city, experts disclosed at the conference. Junk food would actually have to be taxed to discourage its consumption and advertising would have to be prohibited, according to the public health officials at the conference. Can you say big government?
Also featured at the convention was a cable documentary—titled Weight of the Nation like the government-sponsored event—that includes costly obesity studies bankrolled by American taxpayers. In fiscal year 2011 obesity research totaled $830 million, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the nation’s medical research agency. Some of the earth-shattering revelations that have come from this expensive work appear to be common sense.
For instance, the studies have determined that “effective lifestyle changes” can be implemented in communities (presumably the poor ones that are disproportionately affected) to reduce weight, lower risk factors for heart disease and prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. In other words, eat less and exercise more. Researchers have also found that exposure in the womb to maternal obesity or diabetes may increase the risk of obesity or diabetes in offspring.
“If we don’t take the obesity epidemic seriously as individuals and as a nation, we will pay a serious price,” said Dr. Francis S. Collins, the director of the NIH. “It’s going to take diverse and rigorous research to understand the causes of obesity and to identify interventions that work in the real world.” Dr. Collins further assures that the results from federally funded research can “help prevent and treat obesity and its complications.”
It sure sounds like the good doctor is laying the groundwork to hit Congress up for more cash to study fat people. After all, his agency has determined that obesity is a deadly crisis in America because more than one-third of adults and nearly 17% of children are too fat and therefore racking up medical costs to the tune of $147 billion a year.