6. Stigma. So
long as our mind's default reaction to fat people is disgust, it will
be very difficult to get rid of fat stigma. The partial solution, if
there is one, is to recognize that we react in a certain way, and try
to consciously counter our reactions. One way to do this is to instill
in kids from an early age a sense that SOME marketers and food companies and
fast food places are trying to manipulate them into overeating -- into
becoming addicted, in a way, to their foodstuffs. Make distinctions between good companies and bad companies. This isn't broad demonization, per se -- it's simply a better way to rechannel the
negative feelings towards fat we feel organically. Let's also reduce
the stigma for gastric bypass surgery. I've done my part, here.
The procedure can help a lot of people today who are shy about even
researching it on Google. Learning about it will help everyone
understand why obesity is so challenging.
Unless we convert Congress to a unicameral legislature, we're not going to get
rid of corn subsidies and sugar price supports anytime soon, and the market will remain
distorted in a way that promotes obesity. So as long as we're going to
be distorting this market, let's distort it in a way that promotes
healthy eating: add subsidies for farmers' markets, fruits, vegetables, etc.
8. Teach kids how to cook. Jamie Oliver is on this one already. It's a great idea.
9. Increase funding for community-based experiments that
focus broadly on lifestyle, including movement and urban planning and
collective responsibility for the health of individuals. There's some
evidence that this type of approach works, and it allows for
flexibility and regional/culture difference. It avoids the heavy hand
of government. Done properly, it reduces the environmental pressures
and provides the foundation for parents to make better choices and be
rewarded, socially and even financially, for those choices. Everyone
gets involved, from schools to police departments to churches to garden
clubs. For examples, look to successful experiments in France, Newark, Somerville, Massachusetts,
Louisville, Kentucky and elsewhere. Where the government can play a
role, it can do so through the creation of a Millennium Challenge type of
organization that grants funds and serves as a repository for best
practices. Get the president involved: have him travel to the
communities that do the best job.
10. End food deserts: places where access to quality food is a
mirage. (Visit an American Indian reservation and you'll see how devastating these deserts really are.) This requires government intervention in the form of money and
pressure on the grocery industry. It may result in higher unemployment
and some cultural disruption for owners of bodegas; we need to
recognize this trade-off and see if we can incorporate the displaced
people into the solution.
So those are ten ideas.
What are yours?