Welcome!

News Feed Item

The Fraser Institute: Government Meddling to Combat Obesity Unfair and Ineffective

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 04/28/14 -- There is no obesity epidemic in Canada, and even if there was, government intervention aimed at overweight Canadians is costly, poorly targeted and likely ineffective, finds a new study released today by the Fraser Institute, an independent, non-partisan Canadian public policy think-tank.

"Despite claims from public health advocates, politicians and media members, it's a myth to say there's an obesity epidemic in Canada leading to widespread illness and death, and that only government intervention can save us from ourselves," said Nadeem Esmail, Fraser Institute director of health policy studies and author of Obesity in Canada: Overstated Problems, Misguided Policy Solutions.

The study, which recognizes a difference between obesity and overweightness, spotlights three main topics: obesity rates in Canada, the connection between obesity/overweightness and poor health/early death, and government response. The study includes data and analysis from Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom.

How fat are we?

From 2003 to 2012, notes the study, the rate of overweightness among the Canadian population has been stable. And while the rate of obesity climbed from 15.3 per cent to 18.4 per cent, it has also stabilized since 2009. In fact, the rate of obesity among adult males may be dropping, though it continues to increase among adult females. For young people aged 12 to 17, rates of overweightness and obesity have been stable since 2005.

"Claims of an obesity epidemic aren't supported by the available data, so policy-makers in Canada should perhaps exercise caution, rather than aggressive intervention, when considering policy proposals," Esmail said.

What are the public (and private) consequences of being fat?

While there is a clear relationship between premature death and obesity, the study finds that people at the low end of the obesity spectrum (according to the Body Mass Index or BMI, which uses a weight-to-height ratio) may be at no greater risk than so-called normal weight individuals. In fact, a number of studies show the overweight (different than obese) may have a significantly lower all-cause mortality rate compared to people in the normal weight category, while the underweight face a significant increased risk of mortality.

"Considering the health consequences across the weight spectrum, from underweight to obese, the impact of medical innovations and advances over time, and taking a broader view of the economic costs and impacts of obesity, the negative health consequences associated with obesity, and the subsequent strain on Canada's health care system, may be wildly overstated," Esmail said.

Can government trim our fat?

Most government attempts to tackle obesity and overweightness include a familiar menu of policy proposals aimed at private businesses and individuals, which include tax hikes on sugary and fatty foods, food bans, vending machine bans, and menu and food labelling initiatives.

However, these policies often ignore the many complex causes of obesity or overweightness, which include physiological, psychological and socioeconomic factors such as culture, family life and structure, genetics and income. They also impose costs on all Canadians, regardless of individual lifestyle choices, and crucially, disregard the cost to taxpayers, private business and the economy overall.

For example, many of these policies require new or larger government bureaucracies (an agency to determine which foods and beverages should be taxed or banned, for example), stunt small business growth and generate higher business costs, which are likely to be passed on to consumers.

"Government interventions impose costs indiscriminately, inappropriately vilifying particular foods, food manufacturers and distributors. If the interventions fail to shrink waistlines across Canada, we'll likely see advocates arguing that the policies weren't strong or intrusive enough. But in reality, governments have little ability to change the behaviours that lead to overweightness and obesity, and the case for government intervention is neither as strong nor as clear as advocates claim," Esmail said.

Follow the Fraser Institute on Twitter / Like us on Facebook

The Fraser Institute is an independent Canadian public policy research and educational organization with offices in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal and ties to a global network of 86 think-tanks. Its mission is to measure, study, and communicate the impact of competitive markets and government intervention on the welfare of individuals. To protect the Institute's independence, it does not accept grants from governments or contracts for research. Visit www.fraserinstitute.org

Add to Digg Bookmark with del.icio.us Add to Newsvine

Contacts:
Nadeem Esmail
Director of Health Policy Studies, Fraser Institute
Cell: 403-613-2423
Office: (403) 216-7175 ext. 422
[email protected]

Mark Hasiuk
Media Relations Specialist, Fraser Institute
(604) 688-0221 ext. 517
[email protected]

More Stories By Marketwired .

Copyright © 2009 Marketwired. All rights reserved. All the news releases provided by Marketwired are copyrighted. Any forms of copying other than an individual user's personal reference without express written permission is prohibited. Further distribution of these materials is strictly forbidden, including but not limited to, posting, emailing, faxing, archiving in a public database, redistributing via a computer network or in a printed form.

Latest Stories
Infoblox delivers Actionable Network Intelligence to enterprise, government, and service provider customers around the world. They are the industry leader in DNS, DHCP, and IP address management, the category known as DDI. We empower thousands of organizations to control and secure their networks from the core-enabling them to increase efficiency and visibility, improve customer service, and meet compliance requirements.
In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Michael Burley, a Senior Business Development Executive in IT Services at NetApp, will describe how NetApp designed a three-year program of work to migrate 25PB of a major telco's enterprise data to a new STaaS platform, and then secured a long-term contract to manage and operate the platform. This significant program blended the best of NetApp’s solutions and services capabilities to enable this telco’s successful adoption of private cloud storage and launchi...
Data scientists must access high-performance computing resources across a wide-area network. To achieve cloud-based HPC visualization, researchers must transfer datasets and visualization results efficiently. HPC clusters now compute GPU-accelerated visualization in the cloud cluster. To efficiently display results remotely, a high-performance, low-latency protocol transfers the display from the cluster to a remote desktop. Further, tools to easily mount remote datasets and efficiently transfer...
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM has been named “Diamond Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 21st Cloud Expo, which will take place on October 31 through November 2nd 2017 at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, California.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann and Aruna Ravichandran have been named Co-Chairs of @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley which will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. "DevOps is at the intersection of technology and business-optimizing tools, organizations and processes to bring measurable improvements in productivity and profitability," said Aruna Ravichandran, vice president, DevOps product and solutions marketing...
Join IBM November 1 at 21st Cloud Expo at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, and learn how IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Cognitive analysis impacts today’s systems with unparalleled ability that were previously available only to manned, back-end operations. Thanks to cloud processing, IBM Watson can bring cognitive services and AI to intelligent, unmanned systems. Imagine a robot vacuum that becomes your personal assistant tha...
In a recent survey, Sumo Logic surveyed 1,500 customers who employ cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform (GCP). According to the survey, a quarter of the respondents have already deployed Docker containers and nearly as many (23 percent) are employing the AWS Lambda serverless computing framework. It’s clear: serverless is here to stay. The adoption does come with some needed changes, within both application development and operations. Tha...
In his Opening Keynote at 21st Cloud Expo, John Considine, General Manager of IBM Cloud Infrastructure, will lead you through the exciting evolution of the cloud. He'll look at this major disruption from the perspective of technology, business models, and what this means for enterprises of all sizes. John Considine is General Manager of Cloud Infrastructure Services at IBM. In that role he is responsible for leading IBM’s public cloud infrastructure including strategy, development, and offering ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Avere Systems, a leading provider of enterprise storage for the hybrid cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 - Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Avere delivers a more modern architectural approach to storage that doesn't require the overprovisioning of storage capacity to achieve performance, overspending on expensive storage media for inactive data or the overbui...
In his general session at 21st Cloud Expo, Greg Dumas, Calligo’s Vice President and G.M. of US operations, will go over the new Global Data Protection Regulation and how Calligo can help business stay compliant in digitally globalized world. Greg Dumas is Calligo's Vice President and G.M. of US operations. Calligo is an established service provider that provides an innovative platform for trusted cloud solutions. Calligo’s customers are typically most concerned about GDPR compliance, applicatio...
Widespread fragmentation is stalling the growth of the IIoT and making it difficult for partners to work together. The number of software platforms, apps, hardware and connectivity standards is creating paralysis among businesses that are afraid of being locked into a solution. EdgeX Foundry is unifying the community around a common IoT edge framework and an ecosystem of interoperable components.
SYS-CON Events announced today that N3N will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. N3N’s solutions increase the effectiveness of operations and control centers, increase the value of IoT investments, and facilitate real-time operational decision making. N3N enables operations teams with a four dimensional digital “big board” that consolidates real-time live video feeds alongside IoT sensor data a...
SYS-CON Events announced today that TidalScale will exhibit at SYS-CON's 21st International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. TidalScale is the leading provider of Software-Defined Servers that bring flexibility to modern data centers by right-sizing servers on the fly to fit any data set or workload. TidalScale’s award-winning inverse hypervisor technology combines multiple commodity servers (including their ass...
As hybrid cloud becomes the de-facto standard mode of operation for most enterprises, new challenges arise on how to efficiently and economically share data across environments. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Dr. Allon Cohen, VP of Product at Elastifile, will explore new techniques and best practices that help enterprise IT benefit from the advantages of hybrid cloud environments by enabling data availability for both legacy enterprise and cloud-native mission critical applications. By rev...
Companies are harnessing data in ways we once associated with science fiction. Analysts have access to a plethora of visualization and reporting tools, but considering the vast amount of data businesses collect and limitations of CPUs, end users are forced to design their structures and systems with limitations. Until now. As the cloud toolkit to analyze data has evolved, GPUs have stepped in to massively parallel SQL, visualization and machine learning.