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The Sound of Ideas

Fighting Fat Through Public Policy

Posted Friday, April 9, 2010

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With 70 percent of Americans overweight or obese and health related costs skyrocketing, is it time for the “food police?” Some health advocates say it’s time for “tough love” towards obesity – tax soda pop and junk food as if it were tobacco, tie health insurance premiums to weight, make healthy eating a condition of employment? Friday morning at 9 join host Regina Brett for a conversation about fighting fat through public policy.


Health, Fighting Fat


Dr. Michael Roizen, Cleveland Clinic
Dr. Kelly Brownell, Yale Rudd Center for Food and Obesity
Dr. David Kessler, Former FDA Commissioner and author of “The End of Overeating”
Jessica Berg, Case Western Reserve University

Additional Information

Learn more about Fighting Fat, a collaboration with the Plain Dealer and WKYC.

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Fred 8:26 AM 4/9/10

I hope you talk about the issue of corn subsidies.  The reason corn syrup loaded soda and other sugary foods are cheap is because our tax dollars keep corn prices low.  A fast food burger is made cheaper by these subsidized because the cows are fed the subsidized corn. Deep fried junk food is often fried in corn oil. Eliminate the subsides, and the prices of unhealthy food will go up, all without more tax.  The federal government could then either subsidize healthier food, or simply take the opportunity to lower government spending.

Stephanie Griffin 9:21 AM 4/9/10

Thanks so much for this show!  You asked how involved the government should in our food choices, so I offer the following: I would love to see our government more involved in encouraging eating fresh fruits and vegetables and meat from animals raised on pasture - in other words, the government should be subsidizing the producers who sell their wares at the local farmers market rather than subsidizing Monsanto!  In my dream, we would end farm subsidies that hurt farmers, encourage a high-sugar/high-fat prcessed diet, and externalizes the true costs of this unsustainable system to the taxpayers.  We don’t need food police taxing food that really shouldn’t exist in the first place (like processed foods based primarily on subsidized corn and soybeans); we need the government to encourage healthy food choices by encouraging the growth and purchase of whole fruits, vegetables, and healthy meats.  Thanks for taking my comment.

Steve Thomas 9:23 AM 4/9/10

Good Morning,
I haven’t heard any commentary concerning the lower quality of food (more processed, less nutritious) sold compared to what was available in the past. Which also contributes to over eating. Our food system produces mass quanities while sacrificing quality.

Jodi Jackson 9:36 AM 4/9/10

I am so glad someone else mentioned the issue of corn subsidies.  I find it hypocritical of the government to make corn based, sugar loaded products so cheap on the front end, only to tax them on the back end. Until we change our farm policy, it is unlikely that taxation will work.  Potato chips are only cheaper than fresh apples because of these subsidies.  ALso, I would like to see the government devote more resources to food literacy in our schools and public service announcements.  But parents can do much to improve food literacy.  My children (ages 11 and 14) read “Chew on This,” a teen reader version of “Fast Food Nation” by the same author.  They haven’t touched a fast food item since reading it.  Another great book for younger readers is Michael Paulin’s new teen version of Omnivores Dilemna.  Once you are aware of what you are eating and feeding your children, it is impossible not to make changes.  I work full time outside the home,deal with sports and extracurricular activities like anyone else--but health trumps convenience every time.  And we have also conditioned our kids to enjoy better tasting, non-processed food.

Don 9:38 AM 4/9/10

Here’s a question—I work out, eat properly, and weight my appropriate weight.  Why should I have to pay more through taxes for an occasional soda—even if it is just a few cents?  With tobacco, you are only taxing the people who are smoking - who are working against their health.  Sodas are not addicting as is tobacco.  (And I did smoke for 30+ years - increase in taxes did not stop me from buying—education and medication did.)

Michael Altose 9:39 AM 4/9/10

I’m concerned about the nudges and the legislation getting ahead of the science.  Everyone agrees that cigarettes are bad for you, and everyone agrees that sugary snacks are unhealthy. But any open-minded scientist has to admit that we don’t know yet how obesity - or many other diet-related diseases - really work. The low-fat vs low-carb debate is ongoing.  So I’m nervous about efforts against “unhealthy” foods (like fats) that may not really be the big culprits in the final analysis.

Michael Altose MD PhD

Kay Coss 9:41 AM 4/9/10

A big problem is that people don’t COOK! If we look at cooking as part of our exercise program (it IS work!), we can possibly be more comfortable with doing more of it.

John 9:46 AM 4/9/10

I love the Cleveland Clinic’s farmer’s market but it has always disappinted me that they do not accept food stamps.  The surrounding neighborhood would benefit signifigantly if they provided easy use of food stamps at the market.  Cuyahoga County has several markets that do accept food stamps and with the EBT technology it has never been easier to do so.

Ron Dorazio 9:49 AM 4/9/10

Although I believe that most of what Dr. Roizen says about the evils of sugar, salt, and fat is true, I also believe that he (and The Cleveland Clinic) can’t be taken seriously when a MacDonalds Restaurant is allowed to operate on the hospital’s premises.

Victoria Wise 9:54 AM 4/9/10

After WW2, my Grandmother traded the local poor her white flour for their whole wheat flour. They didn’t want the flour---it wasn’t considered healthy but substandard.
It is the same with McDonald’s.  I have heard it said that some poor children are deprived because the family can’t afford to eat there.
The Cleveland Clinic and Dr. Rozen should be commended for trying to change this perception.
Off topic---but sun tanning is the same sort of thing.

Susanna de Sorgo 10:02 AM 4/9/10

What I’m hearing is so intrusive into people’s personal lives.  Educate individuals about food choices, make good, healthy foods more afordable, promote local growers, regulate manufactureres who promote processed food which continues to make people fat, tax manufacuturers who use corn syrup and cheap ingredients as fillers, ban hormones from our meats.  The documentary Supersize Me was quite informative as is the book World Peace Diet.  It’s regulating manufacturers and having healthy foods more accessible that will work—not taxing consumers.


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