Lambasting “the proselytizers and the demonizers, the moralizers and the food prudes,” columnist Margaret Wente of Canada’s Globe and Mail has had just about enough of groups like the Center for Science in the Public Interest. Wente laments that her “scone addiction is no longer a private, personal failing. These days, it’s a public menace that ranks right up there with al-Qaeda.” For those wondering “how fat is too fat,” she notes: “Let’s just say that according to my BMI, I’m right on the edge. This scone could push me over.”
Wente is the only two-time winner of Canada’s National Newspaper Award for column writing — so we’re inclined to agree when she mocks the flawed body-mass index, according to which, Wente writes, “ Mel Gibson is overweight, and Russell Crowe and George Clooney are obese. Far be it from me to question the wisdom of the elders but I smell a rat.” So does the Cato Institute’s David Boaz, who objects in a Washington Times column to Medicare’s recent decision to pay for the weight-loss treatments of Mel, Russell, and George as soon as they hit 65. “It doesn’t take a village for me to eat less and exercise more,” he argues.
A recent study published in the journal Obesity Research goes to prove Boaz’s point. The study set out to “demonstrate that human overeating is not just a passive response to salient environmental triggers and powerful physiological drives; it is also about making choices.” More specifically, the authors contend that eating “is fundamentally about making choices between short-lived and overabundant rewards in the face of a disadvantageous long-term outcome if the behavior is done in excess.” Their conclusion? “Poor decision making” skills in general — and not the “toxic food environment” as dreamed up by the likes of Kelly “Big Brother” Brownell — lead to the food choices associated with obesity.