Issue Date: July 6, 2009
Epidemic Of Obesity
"Weighing Options" was very discouraging (C&EN, April 13, page 11). I don't fault the reporter for limiting it to recent developments in obesity drug development; that was her job. I fault the editorial board for allowing the issue to be discussed in C&EN in such an irresponsible way.
Although the article never even hints at it, the cause of the explosion in U.S. obesity is simple—the equally dramatic increase in federal government subsidies for corn and the high-fructose corn syrup produced from it. This product now represents the world's cheapest source of calories and flavor enhancers, so food producers have dramatically increased its use in our food. Consequently, Americans have dramatically increased their caloric intake, and obesity has exploded.
There are many winners in this scenario: Giant corporate farms get big subsidies; Corn Belt politicians get reelected for sponsoring the subsidies; chemical manufacturers see business increase because corn requires more pesticide and fertilizer than any other crop by far; consumers get sodas three times larger for the same price; and pharmaceutical companies get to develop pills to combat the "disease." Once drugs are approved by the Food & Drug Administration, the federal government will likely force insurance companies to pay for the treatment of a disease it created in the first place.
The price we pay for all these benefits is an entire generation of Americans consigned to morbid obesity and all the chronic health problems associated with it. This is just one more example of how government subsidies do more harm than good. The only responsible solution to the explosion in American obesity is to reverse corn subsidies from Washington, D.C. The current situation is immoral and obscene.
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