retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Reuters reports that the federal Institute of Medicine is out with a series of recommendations for how the US can best address the nation's continuing obesity crisis, embracing policy suggestions that it says can "make the U.S. environment less 'obesogenic'."

Among the recommendations:

• Taxing sugar-sweetened beverages.

• Changing farm policy so that farmers that produce enough fresh produce to satisfy the nation's population. (Current price support policies actually prevent this at the present time.)

• "Tax incentives for developers to build sidewalks and trails in new housing developments, zoning changes to require pedestrian access and policies to promote bicycle commuting."

• Making healthy food "easily available everywhere Americans eat, from shopping centers to sports facilities and chain restaurants."

While the report acknowledges that popular opinion is that personal habits and choices are actually to blame for obesity - not a lack of targeted social policy - it says that this is not accurate, since in many places, people don't actually have a choice.
KC's View:
Expect this report to create a lot of waves in Washington without actually floating anybody's boat.

Even for someone like me - who believes that it makes sense to have an intelligent public policy approach to issues like obesity because it is a national security issue with enormous implications for the health care system - it is hard to completely accept the notion that people don't have enough choices.

I do think that in places like the public schools, where tax dollars help to provide meals, those meals ought to be healthful, and in synch with a broader effort to teach kids how to cook and eat intelligently.

But does our society really not offer enough choice? That's hard to swallow.

However, I do love this word obesogenic.