April 8, 2010

April 8, 2010


Hello everybody out there in farm country. This radio commentary is brought to you by the Renewable Fuels Association, Wal-Mart Stores, Monsanto, and John Deere. They are all friends, supporters, and allies of a healthy farm economy and prosperous rural America. Thank you.

And now for today’s commentary—

Walk down any street in almost any city in the U.S. and you will see too many people that are clearly overweight. Some are just plain fat. That’s not healthy. The obesity rate is up to 35%. We do have a problem that needs attention.

However, I am not confident that we have found the solution. Cities and states want to tax junk food. They attack fast food restaurants for pushing unhealthy food on our children. They want to pass laws to reduce the amount of sugar and salt in our food.

We all remember when McDonald’s was sued because this guy that kept eating their Big Mac sandwiches one after another got fat. Of course, it was McDonald’s fault that he ate too much. The fact is, food companies and restaurants are only doing what they are supposed to do. They are giving us (the customer) what we want.

We have some companies such as GE and Safeway that are offering incentives to their employees if they exercise more. At GE, if you don’t smoke you get $625 more pay per year. They are using financial incentives to encourage a healthier lifestyle.

I think Health Savings Accounts are an incentive to live a healthier lifestyle. With a healthier lifestyle, you won’t have to go to the doctor and will have savings in your account.

If our government is serious about doing something about the obesity problem, here is a suggestion that will not be popular and perhaps is not practical. Makes me sound cruel. Here it is – it is a fact that people on food stamps are more likely to be obese than the population at large. The government is giving them food when they don’t need to eat so much. So when they apply for food stamps, they should weigh in. If they weigh too much, give them green food stamps – only good for fruits and vegetables. Same idea with school lunch – kids that are overweight receiving free or reduced-price lunch go to the salad bar, not to biscuits and gravy.

I know this idea is never going to sell. But I also know that taxing junk food and blaming the food industry for delivering inexpensive food that tastes good is not the right way to go either.

I don’t think we have found the silver bullet solution. The countries that don’t have a weight problem are the countries where food is very expensive and it doesn’t taste very good. And that’s a solution we don’t want.

In closing, I would encourage you to access my website which archives my radio commentaries dating back 10 years and will go back 20 years when complete. Check on what I said back then. Go to www.johnblockreports.com.

Until next week, I am John Block in Washington.