Very few parents would say that they wouldn't take risks to save their child. In fact many people would try to protect unrelated children from harm. These impulses are just part of our nature. But what are the limits to that? At what point do we stop being concerned about harm to our own or other children?
OK, this is a really strange question for a patient health blog but stay with me for a little while.
We know that we are approaching 50% of our society being obese. We know that about 25% of us will develop fatty liver disease. We know that about 20 million will develop NASH. We know that there may be 5 million people who have cirrhosis today and don't know it. We know millions will have shorter lives and be unwell because of all this and we know it is driven by our unhealthy national diet.
When I think about the broad problem I wonder when in their lives the executives of Coca Cola, or Kelloggs, or Post, as just a few examples of industrial food companies, stopped caring about harm to children. Because of actions by the USDA and their tragic food pyramid we were all taught to eat an unhealthy diet, but today the science is clear and every food executive knows it. Most of them have kids or grandkids, or at least hope to. Can they imagine that their families will be immune from the generalized illness plaguing us? Do they feel the moral hazard that they perpetuate?
I wonder when the idea of being protective of the future well being of our neighbors goes away and chronic illness becomes just a consequence of making the next quarter's financial reports look good.
OK enough trashing of big business. The questions about morality are also germane to the government. We can become lost in the dubious morals of congress any day, but I was thinking about the consumer product safety commission. We have serious enforcement processes for hazards to children and rightly so. If a small number of kids are hurt or killed they will recall millions of units of the offending product. The thing that puzzles me is that we are faced with the death of millions of people because of unhealthy food but that is not a thing. I guess when damage is slow and you will be out of power before anyone in your bracket is dying it isn't a thing. I know, congress hasn't given them power over food so blame someone else, but I find it to be an instructive comparison. We mostly care about dying if it happens soon.
We also have to ask the question of parents. It is a puzzle that a parent who would take a bullet to protect their child will casually give them a steady diet of unhealthy food that will ultimately shorten their life. A lot of that is education, habit, and availability as just some of the problems but shouldn't we as a nation stand up for a better system?
Well, I've insulted everyone now so I should probably stop but if you have come this far with me consider becoming a member of The Wellness League,
a project of the foundation that will try to make a difference.