The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has just come out with a report, "F as in Fat: How Obesity Policies Are Failing in America in 2007," in which it makes the same tired (and superficial) observations and beats the same dead horse some more. According to the report:
* Adult obesity rates rose in 31 states last year.
* Twenty-two states experienced an increase for the second year in a row; no states decreased.
* A new public opinion survey featured in the report finds 85 percent of Americans believe that obesity is an epidemic.
This last one made me laugh out loud. And this proves what, exactly? That most Americans will believe anything the media spoon-feeds them? Deep into George W. Bush's second term, we already knew that. But I digress.
* Rates of adult obesity now exceed 25 percent in 19 states, an increase from 14 states last year and 9 in 2005. In 1991, none of the states exceeded 20 percent.
Of course the report fails to mention the change in the BMI chart that created millions of new overweight and obese people overnight. Oops--I digress again.
* "There has been a breakthrough in terms of drawing attention to the obesity epidemic. Now, we need a breakthrough in terms of policies and results," said Jeff Levi, Ph.D., executive director of Trust for America's Health.
You got that right! You'd think that maybe this would be the moment to stop, take stock, and say, Wait a minute, maybe we're fucking up here. Could it be that we're actually making things worse by flailing around? But no. Levi went on to say, "Poor nutrition and physical inactivity are robbing America of our health and productivity."
Give me a break. He's just parroting the conventional lack of wisdom that says all fat people are couch potatoes eating junk food and watching TV.
The press release goes on to tout other "key findings":
* Twenty-two percent of American adults report that they do not engage in any physical activity.
But there's no context for this. Has this changed? I think people are more physically active now than they were 20 or 30 years ago. When my grandmother and mother were my age, they weren't out hiking the Utah mountains or dancing all night. They didn't go to the gym, jog, or play softball. And yet we're the ones who have the "obesity epidemic."
Once more, an opportunity for reflection and going beyond the conventional wisdom--sadly missed.
But the report does more than list problems. It proposed solutions. Solutions like this one, which tops the list:
* The federal government should develop and implement a National Strategy to Combat Obesity. This plan should involve every federal government agency, define clear roles and responsibilities for states and localities, and engage private industry and community groups.
I don't know whether to fall on the floor laughing or be truly frightened. And what about this:
* Federal, state, and local governments should work with private employers and insurers to ensure that every working American has access to a workplace wellness program.
I don't want a workplace wellness program, because what I know about them is that they're as much a joke as school wellness curricula. They exist to penalize workers who don't measure up to the approved guidelines, through surtaxes for those who are overweight, for instance. Unless they're paying for health club memberships for employees, and giving them an hour and a half lunch to go work out, I don't want to hear about it.
If RWJF has its way, our already eating-disordered culture would go beserk. Talk about obsession--they want to get the whole freaking government involved.
What a nightmare.
**Read the press release yourself at www.rwjf.org/newsroom/newsreleasesdetail.jsp?id=10512, which also has a link to the full tet of the report. Sorry I can't link it--still remote blogging.