Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Forget Obesity, Fight Liberalism

With the year winding down, many Americans are now receiving their health insurance renewal packets for 2011 and are reporting, with eye-rolling disgust, higher premiums. Employees and retirees on Medicare and Medicare-supplement plans are seeing, as well, in this age of ObamaCare, greater emphasis on lifestyle and behavioral issues such as obesity, with some information going so far as to define it as a disease.

Nanny-staters frequently gripe that the food choices of the obese and unhealthy drive up the cost of insurance for everyone. New York, of course, has all but banned trans-fats, the Institute of Medicine recommended earlier this year that the FDA limit salt content (a proposal, apparently, still under consideration), and, of course, McDonald’s is facing increased fire from consumer advocacy groups for its Happy Meals targeted at children. Back in New York, Mayor Michael Bloomberg is suggesting that food stamps not be payable for Coca-Cola and other sugary, fattening sodas.

The latter example may not define Nanny-statism but it reflects a prevailing mindset, and the din of voices calling for individual responsibility in food choices is growing louder (if only the Left invoked individual responsibility in, say, sentencing guidelines and school choice). Yes, the war on obesity targets not just the makers of Twinkies, but the non-exercising, mass-consuming sofa-citizens, as well. Lest they miss anyone, Michelle Obama is taking it to the school children, and some, mostly elderly, Americans know their BMI (body mass index) numbers as well as their Social Security numbers.

So what is wrong with encouraging individual responsibility? Nothing, but the problem with government “persuasion” is what price are we willing to pay in freedom? Nothing written here is meant to encourage or condone obesity, only to submit that a market-oriented system based on competition and choice best promotes a culture of individual responsibility, with the warning that those who make dangerous choices will ultimately bear the consequences, thus lowering the price of health care.

Yes, premiums will likely always reflect the costs of someone’s ill behavior, but only an enormous toll in human contentment and liberty will ensure uniform diet, exercise and lifestyle regimens.

To which an extreme advocate of the Nanny-state would reply, “So, what?” Who cares if a few over-consuming obese divan-denizens are shamed and ostracized into sacrificing their Cokes and Twinkies for the sake of numbing down America’s vibrant lifestyle to that of a somber, socialistic, shadow-of-its-former self, European sissy-state?

The goal of ObamaCare, and the future legislation upon which the current act is mere prelude, is equality of outcome and homogenization of behavior. They cannot rightly criticize capitalism for its inefficiency, so they condemn its so called excesses.

The prevailing wisdom is that we consume too much. They are always grousing that America consumes more than its share of the world’s resources. Our greed is bad for the environment, thus the need for cap and trade legislation.

It is not the notion of America the bountiful that animates liberals, but disgust with Coca-Cola, McDonald’s, Little Debbie and others who add fun, flavor and color to our lives. The risk of an inch or two to our waistlines is not worth ceding our liberty to killjoy bureaucrats at any level of government. If we are serious about cutting fat, forget middle America, why don’t we just start in Washington?


Six-monthly jab 'will help beat osteoporosis'

A cheap six-monthly jab for the crippling bone disorder osteoporosis is to be made available on the NHS. Post-menopausal women at increased risk of fractures should be treated with Prolia if other treatments are unsuitable, says the drug rationing body Nice.

Trials of the drug in women show it dramatically cuts the number of spine and hip fractures and even helps bones to regrow.

The treatment, which works out at £1 a day, could provide a new option for one in four women who cannot tolerate existing medication because it causes serious stomach side effects. An estimated 170,000 women a year are unable to take bisphosphonates and risk their bones deteriorating further without treatment.

The new drug, which is also known as denosumab, has been approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence.

Prolia works in a different way to existing medicines as it stimulates patients’ immune systems to block a protein called rank ligand, which regulates the activity of cells that break down bone. The drug reduces the activity of these cells throughout the body, increasing bone density and strength.

Amgen and GlaxoSmithKline, the companies who are co-marketing denosumab, welcomed the NICE decision.

John Kearney, General Manager at Amgen said: ‘Amgen researchers were the first to discover a fundamental biochemical pathway that controls bone remodelling almost fifteen years ago and we are thrilled that this discovery has led today to patients having access on the NHS to a convenient treatment that really has been shown to be highly effective in preventing fractures caused by osteoporosis.’


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