IN a paper published by the Breakthrough Institute this spring, social policy researcher Helen Lee said public health advocates are on the wrong track when modeling anti-obesity efforts on anti-tobacco efforts, both of which have not addressed overeating or smoking "in any appreciable way."
She said research does not support a link between obesity and increased mortality unless an obese person is poor and lacks access to adequate health care.
In fact, she wrote that deaths from cardiovascular disease and diabetes, which are often associated with excess weight, are decreasing significantly because these diseases are treatable.
Lee took issue with food critics Marion Nestle and Michael Pollan, who tend to blamed food producers for obesity and obesity-related issues, and suggested that public health advocates need to focus on "a multiplicity" of good health practices such as weight management, exercising and getting sufficient sleep.
She said nutrition education and planting school gardens are probably "a lot less valuable" than a curriculum that teaches young people how to control desires for unhealthful foods.
Lee's complete paper is available at www.thebreakthrough.org.
The Breakthrough Institute in Oakland, Cal., has a mission "to accelerate" a transition to a future where people can have fulfilling and prosperous lives on an ecologically vibrant planet.