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article imageOp-Ed: Obesity worse than smoking? New study may change laws

By Calvin Wolf     Jul 11, 2014 in Health
The National Cancer Institute has found that obesity can be worse for your lifespan than smoking. Will this prompt changes in legislation?
Decades ago we came out swinging against smoking, finally acknowledging in the 60s that inhaled tobacco smoke was a carcinogen. More recently we have begun taking a similar stand against obesity, applying science to deciphering the dangers of fat. In regard to both vices there were supporters and critics of government intervention, with supporters applauding legislative efforts to improve public health and critics decrying the rise of an alleged "nanny state."
Today, we are relatively accepting of legislation against smoking in public places, as well as age limits on the use of tobacco. Proposed legislation against sugar and fat, however, are facing tough uphill battles. In New York City, for example, proposed bans on large sodas in certain venues were mocked as government overreach.
A new study by the National Cancer Institute, however, may be the sledgehammer blow that forces widespread legislation against sugar and fat through. According to CNN, the Institute found that normal-weight smokers lost fewer years from their lifespans compared to extremely obese persons. Healthy-weight smokers puffed away nine years of their lives compared to 14 years carved from the lives of the heavily obese.
Despite widespread knowledge of the dangers of smoking, some people still light up because they appetite-suppressing cigarettes. With news that this appetite-suppressing may indeed be preferable to morbid obesity, at least in terms of lifespan, legislators may face charges of hypocrisy for remaining staunchly against smoking while taking the laissez-faire approach to fat. And those who have been harsh on tobacco will be urged to crack down on something that has just been shown to be even more dangerous.
Look for anti-obesity legislation, likely in terms of limits on sugary, fatty, and highly-processed foodstuffs in certain venues, such as schools and public facilities, to be proposed. These legislative proposals could become political fodder during the next few election cycles, especially taken in conjunction with the ongoing debates over Obamacare and school reform. Should the public, and especially public school students, be shielded from foods that allegedly lead to obesity?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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