Why Congress Won't Face the Fat Problem

Lawmakers fear giving US 'bad news'—especially while munching Doritos
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 30, 2009 11:10 AM CDT
Why Congress Won't Face the Fat Problem
Health secretary Kathleen Sebelius shakes hands with the Senate Finance Committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Charles Grassley, left, as committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., looks on.   (AP Photo)

Congress is “in denial” on one key health issue: obesity, writes Lisa Lerer for Politico. Obesity-related illnesses reportedly cost $147 billion, or 10% of medical spending, last year—and lawmakers say they’re focused on cost-cutting. But, experts say, “no one wants to tell Americans the bad news.” Notes one professor: “We haven’t come to grips with whether it is their own fault or a combination of factors.”

The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t see attacking obesity as a way to save, hurting “political will” on the matter. There’s also hypocrisy among legislators: Senate Finance Committee members discuss health reform over “Doritos, potato chips and beef jerky.” Some wonder how much input the government should have on what’s to varying degrees a personal-responsibility issue. Another hurdle: the difficulty of going up against the powerful food lobby. (Read more obesity stories.)

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