Does This Government Make Me Look Fat?

As a person who, like Scott, has occasionally flirted with joining the minority group known as “Hefto-Americans,” I tend to follow news about obesity and nutrition.  And like Scott, I’ve become a huge fan of Gary Taubes—though a little less “huge” than I was a few years ago because of Taubes’s advice.

But the news reported in the New York Times the other day that overweight people might actually have lower mortality risk than skinny people caused an extra arch in my brow.  Couple this with other recent research suggesting there are early limits to the benefits of exercise for middle-aged people, and it’s starting to look like we’re coming around to Woody Allen’s point of view in Sleeper (35 seconds of must-see video):

Hmm, could there be a deeper story behind this sudden revisionism?  James Taranto perhaps identifies the backstory in his Best of the Web column today, pointing to a Scientific American article that finds the Food Stamp program, whose PMI (Policy Mass Index—my term of art) under Obama has soared, is driving an increase in obesity:

Participants in the U.S. Food Stamp Program have, on average, a body mass index (BMI) more than one point higher than nonusers, according to research published in the current issue of Economics and Human Biology. This difference was especially high for women: those buying their food with stamps carried around an average of 5.8 pounds more body weight. The researchers also found that BMI rose higher the longer participants received the stamps. . .

“Every way we looked at the data, it was clear that the use of food stamps was associated with weight gain,” Jay Zagorsky, co-author of the study and research scientist at The Ohio State University’s Center for Human Resource Research, said in a prepared statement.

Actually I’m surprised it has taken this long to start to figure out that fat government would lead to fat citizens eventually.  So, will Mayor Bloomberg and other food nannies now propose to reduce Food Stamps along with 16-oz sodas and trans-fats?  In other words, should we cut down on government as well as sugar?  Are you kidding?  More Bloomberg and the nannies will grab on to this new research about how obesity is overrated and say, “Never mind.”  So when can I have my super-size soda back?

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