Home of the free - land of the fat?

October 28, 2011

America's emerging "fat war" threatens to pit a shrinking population of trim Americans against an expanding population of heavy Americans in raging policy debates over "fat taxes" and "fat bans." These "fat policies" would be designed to constrain what people eat and drink - and theoretically crimp the growth in Americans' waistlines and in the country's healthcare costs.

Richard McKenzie's "HEAVY! The Surprising Reasons America is the Land of the Free - and the Home of the Fat" offers new insight into the economic causes and consequences of America's dramatic weight gain over the past half century. It also uncovers the follies of seeking to remedy the country's weight problems with government intrusions into people's excess eating, arguing that controlling people's eating habits is fundamentally different from controlling people's smoking habits.

McKenzie controversially links America's weight gain to a variety of causes:,

In no small way - no, in a very BIG way - America is the "home of the fat" because it has been for so long the "land of the free." Americans' economic, if not political, freedoms, however, will come under siege as well-meaning groups of "anti-fat warriors" seek to impose their dietary, health, and healthcare values on everyone else.

HEAVY! details the unheralded consequences of the country's weight gain, which include greater fuel consumption and emissions of greenhouse gases, reduced fuel efficiency of cars and planes, growth in health insurance costs and fewer insured Americans, reductions in the wages of heavy people, and required reinforcement of rescue equipment and hospital operating tables.

McKenzie advocates a strong free-market solution to how America's weight problems should and should not be solved. For Americans to retain their cherished economic freedoms of choice, heavy people must be held fully responsible for their weight-related costs and not be allowed to shift blame for their weight to their genes or environment. Allowing heavy Americans to shift responsibility for their weight gain can only exacerbate the country's weight problems.
-end-
Richard McKenzie is the Walter B. Gerken Professor of Enterprise and Society in the Merage School of Business at the University of California, Irvine. He has written a number of books on economic policy, most notably on the Microsoft antitrust case in the United States. In 2008, his successful popular economics book "Why Popcorn Costs So Much at the Movies and Other Pricing Puzzles" was published at Springer as was his most recent academic book "Predictably Rational? In Search of Defenses for Rational Behavior in Economics". His commentaries have appeared in newspapers all over the US, including the Wall Street Journal.

See Richard McKenzie on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/richardmckenzie#p/u/0/adKiQdRXv-M

Richard B. McKenzie
"HEAVY! The Surprising Reasons America is the Land of the Free - and the Home of the Fat"
2011. XVIII, 317 p.
Hardcover €27.95, $27.95, £25.99
ISBN 978-3-642-20134-9

Springer

Related Weight Gain Articles from Brightsurf:

How much postmenopause weight gain can be blamed on weight-promoting medications?
Abdominal weight gain, which is common during the postmenopause period, is associated with an array of health problems, including diabetes and heart disease.

Earlier gestational diabetes diagnosis, less weight gain
A new study has shown that initiating screening for gestational diabetes in high-risk women in the first trimester of pregnancy instead of the second trimester, allowing for treatment to start earlier, can help optimize gestational weight gain.

Research provides new insights into menopause and weight gain
Can women in menopause get the benefits of hormone replacement therapy without the health risks?

Study examines timing of weight gain in children
Recent studies suggest kids tend to gain the most weight in summer, but schools are chastised for providing unhealthy food and beverages, along with decreasing opportunities for physical activity.

New study shows why people gain weight as they get older
Many people struggle to keep their weight in check as they get older.

Being teased about weight linked to more weight gain among children, NIH study suggests
Youth who said they were teased or ridiculed about their weight increased their body mass by 33 percent more each year, compared to a similar group who had not been teased, according to researchers at the National Institutes of Health.

Daily self-weighing can prevent holiday weight gain
Researchers at the University of Georgia have shown that a simple intervention -- daily self-weighing -- can help people avoid holiday weight gain.

Association between weight before pregnancy, weight gain during pregnancy and adverse outcomes for mother, infant
An analysis that combined the results of 25 studies including nearly 197,000 women suggests prepregnancy body mass index (BMI) of the mother was more strongly associated with risk of adverse maternal and infant outcomes than the amount of gestational weight gain.

Comfort food leads to more weight gain during stress
Australian researchers have discovered a new molecular pathway in the brain that triggers more weight gain in times of stress.

Women gain weight when job demands are high
Heavy pressures at work seem to predispose women to weight gain, irrespective of whether they have received an academic education.

Read More: Weight Gain News and Weight Gain Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.