Most Americans believe that AIDS and other communicable diseases constitute the biggest threat to our nation’s health. But according to the “experts” from the field of public health, they’re dead wrong. A new Roper survey reveals that four out of five public-health professionals now consider obesity our number one public health threat.

The primary focus of public health used to be infectious diseases like tuberculosis and polio, but regular readers won’t be surprised to learn that flab now ranks higher on the agenda. This year’s annual meeting of the American Public Health Association will feature nearly 200 presentations and papers on obesity, including topics like “Is childhood obesity the next tobacco?” At last year’s meeting, APHA president Faye Wong declared that books by food scolds Marion Nestle and Eric Schlosser should be “required reading” for public health specialists.

More than 60 percent of the full-time researchers and policymakers employed by state health departments belong to the 50,000 member-strong APHA. That may explain why the Texas Department of Health runs a “Soda Busters” program that advocates “sin” taxes on pop, and why Maine’s Bureau of Health prepared ads calling soda “crap.” Your tax dollars are being put to work, financing the latest loony public health ideas.

This year’s APHA meeting is titled “Behavior, Lifestyles, and Social Determinants of Health.” A majority of the government bureaucrats, public health academics, and meddlesome activists surveyed by Roper blame “unhealthy lifestyles and behaviors” for the “chronic diseases plaguing the U.S.” Public health officialdom is now focusing on human behavior rather than on microbes and medicines. And your dinner plate is their primary target.