Experts push for Orwellian maintenance over Americans’ health

George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is one of the best and most important books ever written. This is not hyperbole. It’s as close as one can ever get to an objective statement about a novel.  In addition to Orwell’s lean, elegant prose, it is impossible to imagine a more insightful or prescient book about the nature of a truly socialist government.  Except for failing to include mass starvation, Orwell accurately predicated just about every aspect of North Korea.

One of the powerful imagines George Orwell created was a sense of being under constant scrutiny and control.  Poor Winston Smith, doing his government-mandated physical exercises in front of his government-mandated two-way television, was stridently scolded for failing to implement properly his government-mandated “jerks.”  (I’ve never quite known what those “jerks” were, but I assume that they were push-ups or jumping jacks.)

Two-way television, of course, was an unheard of idea in 1948.  Now every iPhone has it, and every computer can have it.  The future is the present.  Oh, and the bit about having the government modern every individual’s lifestyle and health choices?  We knew that was coming down the pike when the government passed ObamaCare.  The government that controls your health care controls you.

One aspect of health care, of course, is weight.  Despite the fact that studies show that “obese” people can be perfectly healthy, our betters and wisers in the worlds of academia and politics want to slim the government health care budget by slimming you — and they think that coercive government force is a good way to achieve this goal:

Federal agencies should step in if industries that promote high-calorie foods to children do not implement common nutrition standards within two years, the influential Institute of Medicine (IOM) said Tuesday.

The recommendation came as part of a 478-page IOM report on the U.S. obesity epidemic that outlined broad policy changes the panel says are necessary to stave off a healthcare crisis.

The changes are aimed at a complete overhaul of the United States’s “obesogenic” environment, the panel wrote.

“People have heard the advice to eat less and move more for years, and during that time a large number of Americans have become obese,” panelist Shiriki Kumanyika of the University of Pennsylvania said.


“The average person cannot maintain a healthy weight in this obesity-promoting environment,” she said.

Strategies like a possible soda tax and new zoning laws to encourage walking and biking are designed to “reinforce one another’s impact to speed our progress,” said panel Chairman Dan Glickman, a former secretary of Agriculture.

The food and beverage industry, as well as its marketers, must cooperate or face possible federal intervention on issues like childhood nutrition standards, the panel warned.

Ace treats this idea with the disdain it deserves, but I’m not sure his voice of reason is being heard outside the Church of Conservative Ideology.

I do wonder, though, if there isn’t a good political campaign to be made of reminding people that Obama’s going to take away their ice cream cones, sodas, hot dogs, and hamburgers.


Be Sociable, Share!


    The first USDA food guide, Food for Young Children by Caroline Hunt. Stipulates five food groups, milk and meat, cereals, vegetables and fruits, fats and fatty foods, sugar and sugary foods, but recommends that diets be selected from a number of different food groups to ensure that both known and unknown nutrients be consumed in adequate amounts.

    You can lead a horse to water …… but if the horse prefers “Skittles”.

  • Ymarsakar

    Kids don’t get to make decisions of this nature and neither do slaves.

  • Jose

    I’ve had a taste of government imposed weight control and it isn’t pleasant.
    The military has long had weight standards, and while they have put more emphasis on fitness than they used to, the weight and bodyfat controls have also become more stringent over time.
    I started my career near my maximum weight, but having grown up on the farm, I was well muscled.  Over the next several years of working an office job, I lost a lot of muscle tone, but a 4 month deployment and a steady diet of MREs put me over the max forever.
    I struggled to maintain my weight for the rest of my career.  I never got back to my max allowable weight, but my body fat was low enough to get by.  Remember when Tom Cruise had the BMI of 25?  That was me.  I gave up martial arts, which was my favorite physical activity, right before my black belt test so I could concentrate on loosing weight and never got back to it.
    I was repeatedly counseled about diet and told to do aerobic exercise for 30 minutes 5 days a week, which had little effect.  I learned, long before corroborating research was published, that some of us need 90 minutes of intense aerobic exercise 5-6 days a week to make progress. 
    I had a promotion withheld once until I reached standards, which directly affected my pocketbook. I have seen people loose jobs, loose assignments, and get kicked out.  A friend who had trouble nursing her baby was told by the pediatrician to gain weight, while her commander told her to loose it.  Use your imagination and substitute gov health care in place of commander. 
    Currently the government is using a stick and carrot approach to encourage doctors to migrate to Electronic Health Records.  Tax breaks for compliance and tax penalties for those who stick with paper.  It adds up to literally millions of $$ for large health care systems (they love it).  Once gov health care starts coordinating with the IRS  (we know it was part of the legislation),  how long until there is a block on the form 1040 where we enter our annual check up information? 
    How long until we get tax breaks and penalties as individuals?  Mandatory diet counseling?  Required by law from your doc (extra time & expense for him).  Mandatory exercise classes?  Maybe not but there might be a tax credit for it.   If you can get a government certified instructor.  Can’t exercise with that bad back or bum knee?  No tax credit for you while you wait in line for surgery.  And you better loose 30 lbs to qualify.   If you’re too old for that joint replacement you’re in a higher tax bracket for life.
    Incurred higher than average medical costs over your working life?  Reduced Social Security benefit (or work a couple years longer).  It all comes out of the same pot anyway.  Civil servant?  Here’s some new promotion criteria for you boss to evaluate you with. 
    Someone stole your identity and ran up medical bills under your name or SSN?  Or was it just a clerical error in your electronic records?  It’s difficult to prove with paper records, because if you tell the record office someone else’s records are mixed with yours, they can’t release any of it to you (can’t have you looking at other peoples health records).  With electronic records it will be impossible to sort out.

    However bad we imagine it might be, the government will make it worse.

  • Bookworm

    Jose: That’s just dreadful that you went off the black belt track. Indeed, the standards themselves are ridiculous. Of course, the standards are ridiculous.  The government will claim that it’s to ensure that troops are fit — i.e., that they’re able to perform.  Well, why not measure their performance skills instead of their BMI?  I know people who can’t haul their skinny a***s up a mild slope, and I know sturdy people who can do a seriously hard martial arts workout for a couple of hours.  The mere fact that you were on the verge of that black belt proves that you were fit.

    This is precisely my point about bureaucracies.  They’re stupid!

  • Jose

    BW, I was in the best shape of my life, at 40.  We literally did hundreds of push ups in a class.  Combined with running and other things, I started to gain weight, so I had to quit.  

    Yes, it was stupid…

  • bkivey

    I’ve written (BM-Aye-yi-yi) on the abuse of the Body Mass Index by the busybodies of the world.The BMI was developed as a statistical tool to evaluate populations; it was never intended to be applied to individuals. I have some serious reservations about applying BMI to individuals, not least is the fact that muscle and adipose tissue have different densities. I cycled for years, so I have big, muscular calves and thighs. I enjoy lifting, so there’s a few more pounds of muscle. I’m 5’10” and weigh 210, but I have a reasonable body fat percentage, and no one who saw me would call me ‘fat’.
    I’ve also written on the implications of government health care. It’s true that those who control your health care access control you. If everyone’s health care costs are paid for by the same insurer, your life isn’t yours, it belongs to the collective. Want to ride a motorcycle, fly a plane, climb a mountain? You just might find those activities will cost you a lot more, or even be proscribed. Think that’s extreme? The federal government is already involved in what foods can and cannot be sold or consumed at the local level. It’s long past time for people to tell government, and those who use it to control people, to stuff it.
    BTW, I’d thought the ‘jerks’ from 1984 referred to a type of exercise that simulates the ‘jerk’ portion of the ‘clean and jerk’, but without the weights.

  • Libby

    Like Global Warming, the “obesity epidemic” is just the latest excuse to exert greater control over our lives. As they say in the linked article, it necessitates “a complete overhaul of the United States’s ‘obesogenic’ environment.” Let the central planning begin!
    This is also going to be used as a criterion for rationing care. Britain’s NICE implemented guidelines to restrict treatment to smokers and the obese years ago:

  • Mike Devx

    Don’t forget that in 1997-1998 the government redefined the BMI statistics for what was “normal”, “overweight”, and “obese”.  You can’t trust any comparative statistics relating obesity from pre-1998 and post-1998.

    An article link from 1998:

    A key excerpt:
    Under the new guidelines, an estimated 29 million Americans now considered normal weight will be redefined as overweight and advised to do everything they can to prevent further weight gain.

    I remember when the median average weight for my height dropped that year, from 176 lbs to 168 lbs.  Football players – and not those hulking linemen! – were suddenly to be classified as obese because they were not lean and stringy.  All the powerful NBA centers, and not just Shaquille O’Neal, would be classified as obese.

    A lot of us are overweight and lead lives that are too sedentary for our own good.  I’m definitely way overweight at 210 lbs.  But you should still be cautious with these statistics.

    The truly terrible part is that under any nationalized health system, where “we’re all in it together”, and my bad health means dollars from your wallet to pay for my treatment, those running the system have a vested interest in FORCING us to live healthier lives in the name of “fiscal responsibility”.  Those running the system will LOVE to control ever wider aspects of our lives.  I think they’re salivating over the prospects of more control of us, the way I salivate over too much food.  

  • Mike Devx

    > I remember when the median average weight for my height dropped that year, from 176 lbs to 168 lbs.

    I meant to say, the median average so-called HEALTHY weight was redefined for my height.

  • Ron19


    “The truly terrible part is that under any nationalized health system, where “we’re all in it together”, and my bad health means dollars from your wallet to pay for my treatment, those running the system have a vested interest in FORCING us to live healthier lives in the name of “fiscal responsibility”.”

    You misunderstand.  The money does not come from the taxpayers’ wallet.  It comes out of the Budget, leaving less money for new projects and more underlings.  The only remedy for that is to appropriate less money for Your problem.

  • Beth

    Son #3 was born 15 years ago at Yongsun military hospital, Seoul, ROK.  The 10lb 8oz brusier doubled the KATUSA babies in the ward.  At second or third peds apptment, army cpt said my baby was obese and I needed to stop feeding him so much…(yes, breastfed baby).  I remember sitting in front of said Capt. after she railed at me for 10 minutes or so and then politely asked how many children she had and if she had ever nursed a child.  She immediately dismissed me.  I refused to see her after that and of course, I did not put the boy on a diet.
    My ‘Korean’ boy is now a 6’1″ 220 lbs of muscle varsity lineman.  Wish that Capt could see that obese boy now.  
    A couple of things–when are we going to stop making everyone the SAME and two, when are parents going to listen to their gut instinct on what is right and good for their families–(or have we already bred that instinct out of our species?)

  • phaedruscj

    You should have asked permission before using my picture in your post!

  • lee

    Right now, I am definitely overweight and out of shape. When I have been in extremely good physical shape (swimming 2000 meters 3x/wk, running 1 hour 3x/wk, and weight training), I wear a size six or eight dress. At a size six, I look too skinny; I look much better in the size eight or ten. At that size, and in GOOD physical shape, I weigh about 150 to 160  lbs. I am 5′ 5″ which means I would have a BMI of 25+! Or that I am “overwight.” A weight of 127 would put me smack in the middle of the “normal” range. I would also have no muscle mass, and would look rather like someone suffering from anorexia. BMI takes no consideration of skeletal types, muscle mass, etc. It’s a tool that has been badly used. And is in large part responsible for the “sudden” obesity epidemic–obesity was redefined awhile back in terms of BMI, and suddenly, people like your average athlete, were “overweight” if not “obese.”

  • Ymarsakar

    BMI was designed for people who could’t be allowed to have muscles. Because slaves with muscles might rebel and be dangerous.

    More seriously, the one size fits all criteria is pretty stupid. And until a nation loses enough wars, they won’t recognize just how serious that is until they figure out what Sun Tzu meant by “know yourself”.