U.S. Wants Obesity Fight Plan Changed

Jan 16, 2004
George Anderson

By George Anderson

The Bush administration has asked the World Health Organization (WHO) to make changes to its plan to reduce obesity throughout the world because it considers many of the recommendations
being made by the body to be based on faulty science.

William R. Steiger, special assistant for international affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, said the Bush administration was looking for a plan that involved
much more emphasis on personal responsibility than that contained in the WHO proposal.

According to a report out of England by The Guardian, Mr. Steiger wrote to the director general of the WHO, Lee Jong-Wook, to state, “The US government favors dietary
guidance that focuses on the total diet, promotes the view that all foods can be a part of a healthy and balanced diet, and supports personal responsibility to choose a diet conducive
to individual energy balance, weight control and health.”

A spokesperson for the Grocery Manufacturer’s Association (GMA) supported the government’s position. Michael Diegel told the Washington Post the WHO made “no mention of
what we consider to be the fundamentally important issue of individual responsibility.”

Kaare Norum, the chairperson of the scientific panel that advised WHO, dismissed the U.S. administration’s objections. “The negative comments have not come from scientists. They
have come only from industry,” he said. “It is ridiculous to say that the report is not valid. It is ridiculous to use these minor objections to throw over the global strategy.
I think it’s very tragic.”

Moderator’s Comment: Is the U.S. correct in raising objections to the WHO plan to fight global obesity?

The U.S. finds itself breaking from the international consensus on an issue once again. That has not stopped it with the Kyoto Protocol, Iraq or other issues,
so we wouldn’t expect it to be any different in this matter.

Although, the objections of the U.S. government to the WHO plan may seem like nitpicking to the rest of the world, it is the view of many Americans (as
past discussions on RetailWire have pointed out) that not enough emphasis is being placed on personal responsibility when it comes to the obesity issue.

Perhaps the WHO would do well to incorporate more scientific evidence based on psychology and human behavior if it wants universal support of its plan to
fight obesity.
Anderson – Moderator

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1 Comment on "U.S. Wants Obesity Fight Plan Changed"

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Mark Burr
17 years 2 months ago

I believe that the WHO is about as equally relevant in solving any heath issues worldwide as the U.N. has been in bringing peace and stablity throughout the world since its inception.

The fact is, the U.S. Government can make its own decisions and is not bound to heed and follow any organization simply to achieve concensus without consideration of principle.

The fact is that a good percentage of obesity is lack of personal responsiblity as with being simply over-weight and not obese. Certainly a good portion of obesity can possibly be related to eating disorders or genetics – But not all! To make no mention of resposible is irresponsible. But then again, consider the source and you’ll find the explanation of why it may have been opposed. Those that can’t see the coorlation accept little responsiblity as nations themselves. Hmmmm…whom might they be??