Obesity: A serious challenge to the country’s future


When I grew up less than one person out of 100 was severely obese. That state of well being was pretty well maintained until the 1970s. Perhaps the farmers are to blame – food was expensive up until that point in time. Today one can gorge themselves with calories on little more than a few dollars a day. Today four in ten Americans are obese with one in ten being severely so.

If there is a chance that the Affordable Care Act will fail, it most likely will not come from Republicans but from every day citizens that overindulge in high calorie foods.

If Republican leadership wants to salvage affordable health care, they should start with their silent Surgeon General making an announcement regarding this threat to the well-being of our people and the nation and its children. We can win this war but it will require the effort of parents and the school system making physical education and health courses mandatory.

If you find the cost of health care insurance almost or totally out of reach, imagine what the cost will be in the next decade. Go to Kroger’s and you will see an array of electronic scooters. In some cases for the elderly and disabled – but in many cases from the young that are disabled from obesity. The cost of taking care of such a patient in the hospital sky rockets. What should be simple surgery can often require the use of ventilators and complications that rarely occur in the non-obese patient.

A simple tool that I personally use is to watch the notch on the belt of my trousers. When I have to move it out, it screams an alarm that I am endangering my life and future. The scale is also a useful tool along with a chart that plots the weight on a daily basis.

These comments are not made in a pedantry mode but in a mode to fulfilling the responsibilities of our government and our Surgeon General. Previous Republican and Democratic administration have had such leaders. One that said smoking was bad for one’s health followed by another that I had met personally as a young resident at the University of Pennsylvania Dr. C. Everett Koop who said “smoking is an addiction”..

Perhaps our current Surgeon General should update that public spirited advice by saying that food that leads to obesity is an addiction – one that will take more lives perhaps[s than tobacco and opioids.

Charles E. Reier MD,


Former Professor of Anesthesiology

Ohio State University and West Virginia University

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