It’s the end of the year and Reuters is making predictions about the top health stories of 2008. We must be on the same page. Most of them are issues discussed here. In order: the push for raw milk, melting fat (with injections of something supposed to get rid of body fat? I think I may have to miss that one), the farm bill, defining natural, problems with food labels, Michael Pollan (a story in himself!), the end of cheap food, and the need to fix the FDA and USDA. Sounds a lot like 2007…
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I participated in a panel with Charlie Rose last night on the science of obesity. With five people around the table, it was hard to get a word in edgewise, but I did the best I could (take a look and judge for yourself). The central issue for the conversation was whether obesity is the result of genes or the environment. If it’s genes, let’s find a drug and solve the problem. If it’s environment, things get much more complicated because no drug can fix a society that makes food available everywhere, at rock bottom cost, in enormous portions. Genes matter, of course; not everyone who overeats gains weight. But rates of overweight started to zoom up just in the past 25 years or so, too recently for genetics to have changed. While the science types are working hard to find a magic–and highly profitable–bullet, people need to find ways to handle a food environment that encourages overeating. I’m in favor of policies to make it easier to eat more healthfully, ranging from restrictions on marketing junk food to children to elimination of farm subsidies. I’m sure you can think of more. I’m collecting a list. Send suggestions.
In the meantime, I have a bit more to say about these issues at Eating Liberally.