02.25.2011 0

The Newest Obesity Epidemic

By Rebekah Rast –

America’s first lady is hell bent on fighting the obesity epidemic.

For now it is focused on the nation’s children. She has interfered in school lunch and snack programs, and has even gotten one of the largest companies in the world, Wal-Mart, to comply with her plea to sell foods with less sugar and salt.

In a Daily Caller op-ed, Orit Sklar, spokeswoman for My food. My Choice! wrote, “Now, one of the largest companies in the world is the vehicle through which all American food and health policy will flow. As Wal-Mart begins to institute the five-year plan, aimed at reducing products that do not meet the first lady’s ‘Let’s Move’ campaign’s ‘healthy’ standards, the rest of the food industry will be forced to follow. Wal-Mart’s standards — read: the first lady’s standards — will now be the law of the land. Skip over that pesky Congress and the FDA and go for a new model: coerced corporate control.”

But with all the first lady’s concern over obese children she is forgetting one often overweight market.

CBS News did a story on America’s “Portly Pet Problem.” Yes, following in the footsteps of their masters, more than half of America’s pets are overweight or obese. Apparently they eat too much and exercise too little, resulting in Toby the cat contracting diabetes and arthritis. What does that mean for America’s pet owners? According the CBS article, it means about a $2,000 bill to nurse your cat or dog back to health.

One can only wonder how long it will take before the government gets involved in Fido the dog’s diet.

For now, technology by veterinarians and other doctors are working on the issue.

The Wall Street Journal reports, “Now, new efforts are afoot to stem what many vets believe is the single most preventable health crisis facing the country’s 171 million-plus dog and cat pets. They include software for doctors to track a pets ‘Body Condition Score,’ a blood test that could quickly determine animals’ body-fat percentage, Weight Watchers-type pet diet plans and doggie treadmills.”

The difference between an overweight pet and an overweight human: rarely does a pet take itself through the drive-thru at McDonald’s on a daily basis. And rarely does a pet pour his own food into his bowl. The way people eat has trickled down to how they feed their pets — problem is, pets can’t diet or exercise on their own.

The Wall Street Journal article goes on to say, “Manufacturers aren’t required to list caloric content on labels unless the product bills itself as low calorie, according to the Food and Drug Administration, which says there’s now a proposal circulating to change that.”

It is no surprise the government is jumping on another opportunity to regulate. You would think pet owners with pet insurance policies still having to shell out $25 million to vets for obesity-related conditions in 2010, would be convincing enough to ensure their pets are being properly taken care of without the federal government’s help.

No one can fix this epidemic but the pet owners themselves. This is a problem that doesn’t need the government’s involvement.

As America’s children take on the first lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative, they’d best take their pets on the journey as well. Otherwise pet food and animal diet regulations might be the newest items on the federal government’s agenda to fully regulate all eating habits.

Rebekah Rast is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) News Bureau. You can follow her on Twitter at @RebekahRast.

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