I read Marc Ambinder’s “Beating Obesity” (May Atlantic) with interest and empathy, as I lost 50 pounds in the early 1970s and have struggled mightily (but successfully) to keep the weight off ever since. The article framed the issue of obesity as a public-health matter and also pointed out that obesity affects low-income Americans significantly more than others, which led me to wonder why the author did not at least mention the possibility of restricting what foods can be obtained with food stamps.
James R. Brown
I believe that if we decided to tax food that causes our citizens to become obese—and therefore unhealthy and costly to our health-care system—and instead subsidize locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, we could very well see an amazing about-face in our collective health. How about a fast-food tax? Considering that “billions and billions” are served, the revenue could potentially pay off the national debt—even as the measure saved billions more on reduced health-care costs, since fewer and fewer people would be attracted to fast food if it was not so cheap anymore.
Vashon Island, Wash.
Marc Ambinder’s exploration of obesity in America is wide-sweeping and intelligent. But parents are nowhere to be seen. The earlier that parental intervention occurs, the more successful it is in changing problematic eating in children or teens. While not everyone who is obese has a diagnosable eating disorder (only about 20 percent report binge eating), we shouldn’t overlook the possibility that parents can indeed help.