We were tickled by the opening sentences of this editorial in the Albany Times Union: “Government can slap taxes on soda and ban sugary snacks in schools, but those alone won’t make children healthy and fit. Kids, like adults, need exercise. You can’t get buff if you’re on your duff.” It sounds like the Times Union editorial board understands the elementary math of weight loss – namely, that weight control is a balance of calories-in versus calories-out.
Misguided policymakers and wrong-headed activists ought to consider that bans and taxes focus on the wrong side of the weight-loss equation. State-by-state public health statistics suggest that inactivity – not sugar or soda or trans fats or any other maligned food – is the true obesity culprit.
The dismissal of unnecessarily punishing taxes and bans would be a good first step. As we’ve said before, consumers hate sin taxes and they aren’t as effective as encouraging people to get an extra 10 minutes of light exercise (such as a walk around the block) per day. Asking schools to increase their physical education requirements, as two recent studies have proposed, seems like a safer bet in addressing childhood obesity. (The same advice goes for adults.)
If the goal is to get fit instead of fed up, re-evaluating the importance of physical activity has to be the first step.