- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 10, 2012

Americans are fatter than ever, but it’s not their fault. That’s according to the latest effort to solve an obesity crisis in the only way liberals know how - with more government.

A study released this week from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Duke University and RTI International found obesity rates to be on course to rise from 34 to 42 percent of the U.S. population by 2030. The number of severely obese - defined as about 100 pounds overweight - will double to 11 percent.

Today, 68 percent of Americans are overweight and half of those are obese. According to the CDC, the average man is 5‘9” tall and weighs 195 pounds. That’s an inch taller but 30 pounds heavier than the average in 1960. The average woman has also grown an inch in 50 years to 5‘4”, but she spins the scales 25 pounds heavier at 165 pounds.

A new report from the highly influential Institute of Medicine this week blames society and business for this obesity epidemic. The organization, which was created by the National Academy of Sciences, wants the federal government to insert itself in the private market to force food and beverage companies to provide healthy options at “competitive prices everywhere that food is offered.” Fast-food and chain restaurants would have to change the children’s menu to comply with federal dietary guidelines without charging more for these options. Sugary sodas would be taxed.

The basic idea is that people can’t stop themselves from eating hot dogs at a baseball game or ordering a double-cheese pizza from the couch. Government-centric busybodies want to turn fat people into a class of victims so that Big Brother can come and take control of not just their lives, but everyone’s food choices.

It all starts as something “voluntary.” The institute wants the feds to work with the media on a social-marketing campaign to encourage people to adopt healthy habits, which is exactly what first lady Michelle Obama has been doing for the past three years.

Food, beverage and restaurant industries would be encouraged to “step up their voluntary efforts” to set common nutritional standards for marketing aimed at those under 17 years old. If companies fail to comply within two years, government officials would set mandatory rules about kid-targeted marketing. That means Uncle Sam will undoubtedly fire favorites like Tony the Tiger, Toucan Sam, Cap’n Crunch, Count Chocula, Snap, Crackle and poor Pop.

Most fat people are overweight because they eat too much and don’t exercise enough. Mandates, taxes, rules and regulations dictated in Washington aren’t going to make someone put down the nachos and pick up an apple or go for a jog. Ultimately, people need to take responsibility for their own waistlines and health habits.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.