The Obesity Fight
By now, many people have heard about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's attempt to combat obesity by limiting the size of soft drinks containing sugar. There has been both an aggressive ad campaign
and a new ban on beverages over 16 ounces. He has quite a few professional voices backing these decisions
. Today, though, a state Supreme Court judge overturned this new law
, saying the mayor reached beyond his authority in an "arbitrary and capricious" way.
Obesity is a growing problem in developed western nations. It also has huge potential financial implications on healthcare as the incidence of diabetes skyrockets. This is not to mention the probable growth of osteoarthritis and cardiac disease from being overweight. People will argue that it's their choice and their right to get fat from soda should they choose to. Well, that impacts Medicare and Medicaid utilization, as well as rising premiums for private insurance. Do people really have the right to increase others' costs for their own selfish behavior?
Wellness and prevention of arthritis, cardiac disease and diabetes can certainly fall under the scope of physical therapy patient education. What should the professional role be in this situation? Do you educate overweight patients, regardless of presentation, on the risks of being overweight or the options available in food choices?
This public health issue isn't going away anytime soon. Should government take steps like those Mr. Bloomberg has attempted to protect the entire public from those who make poor choices, or do we allow a level of personal freedom that could eventually impact all of our health costs?
What about the impact on the factory workers, distributors, shop keepers, advertising agencies and bottlers if these bans go into place? Will this action to protect the population actually hurt the economy and localities that depend on producing soda to make a living?
Nanny state or anarchy, we seem to be the ones paying in the end.