Monday, August 31, 2009

Proto Magazine: Hsieh on Obesity

Proto magazine is a quarterly biomedical and health magazine published by the Massachusetts General Hospital, which is one of the premier teaching hospitals for Harvard Medical School.

One of their "Policy Watch" articles in the Summer 2009 issue was entitled "The Future of Obesity?" The topic was what sorts of government programs (if any) should be imposed to stop the obesity epidemic. They interviewed eight people, most of whom were in favor of some sort of government-run "public service campaign" and/or new regulations to fight obesity along the same lines as the anti-tobacco campaign of the 1990s.

The author Charles Slack got my name through Craig Biddle (editor of The Objective Standard) and he was good enough to interview me as one of the eight "experts" specifically to provide a pro-freedom perspective on obesity regulations

My quote from "The Future of Obesity?" appears on page 2:

In a free society, the individual has the right to make diet and lifestyle choices—and the responsibility to enjoy or suffer the consequences.

The government should not try to solve the obesity problem by coercing consumer behavior or by restricting the freedom of businesses to advertise their products. Some argue that such controls are justified because people who develop obesity-related illnesses will be treated at taxpayer expense. But the sole legitimate function of government is to protect individual rights, not violate them. Just because government currently violates individual rights by forcing citizens to pay for others’ health care does not justify further violations in the form of telling Americans what we may or may not eat. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

Those who become ill as a result of their poor choices should pay the price themselves or rely on voluntary charity rather than be supported by taxpayer dollars.

--Paul Hsieh, a physician in Denver, is a co-founder of Freedom and Individual Rights in Medicine, a nonprofit group that promotes personal liberty and free markets in health care.
This mirrors one of my themes from my earlier Christian Science Monitor piece, "Universal Healthcare and the Waistline Police".

Thanks, Craig, for helping to arrange this interview!