Michelle Obama’s is deeply involved in her recently involved in fight against childhood obesity. Eating healthy and exercising more is a laudable goal. But do we want the government operatives taking the role of a Biggest Loser Drill Sergent? Could government weight monitoring become a reality?
Maybe. In an interview with Marv Albert, President Barack Obama had a question for Charles Barkley:
“I know you say you’re not a role model, but the first lady has been working on this childhood obesity thing and she wants to know if you are setting a good example by getting your exercise and eating right. If you could give an honest response, because I have ways of checking up. I’ve got a lot of intelligence operations around. We’ve got hidden cameras everywhere. Let us know, are you, in fact, sticking to your diet?”
Although the President’s comments should be taken lightheartedly, the government does face a conundrum. Obesity reduction efforts that implore individuals to lose weight likely won’t have any teeth (pun-intended). Just saying ‘pretty please’ or trying to make people feel guilty about being fat will only have a moderate effect on weight loss and could even increase the incidence of eating disorders. On the other hand, the government could impose penalties (e.g., higher premiums) for overweight individuals who receive government-run healthcare (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid).
In this case, the President’s threats may not be a laughing matter.