qq - Obesity and "Public Health"? by David Boaz...

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Obesity and "Public Health"? by David Boaz July 20, 2004 David Boaz is executive vice president of the Cato Institute and author of Libertarianism: A Primer (Free Press, 1998). Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson says, "Obesity is a critical public health problem in our country." Wrong. Obesity is a problem for many people, but it is not a public health problem. By calling it one, however, Thompson can promise that we, the taxpayers, will pay for everyone's diet programs, stomach surgery, and behavioral counseling. Get out your wallet. The meaning of "public health" has sprawled out lazily over the decades. Once, it referred to the project of securing health benefits that were public: clean water, improved sanitation, and the control of epidemics through treatment, quarantine, and immunization. Public health officials worked to drain swamps that might breed mosquitoes and thus spread malaria. They strove to ensure that water supplies were not contaminated with cholera, typhoid, or other diseases. The U.S. Public Health Service began as the Marine Hospital Service, and one of its primary functions was ensuring that sailors didn't expose domestic populations to new and virulent illnesses from overseas. Those were legitimate public health issues because they involved consumption of a collective good (air or water) and/or the communication of disease to parties who had not consented to put themselves at risk. It is difficult for individuals to protect themselves
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This note was uploaded on 04/07/2011 for the course HLTH 310 taught by Professor Staff during the Winter '08 term at BYU.

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qq - Obesity and "Public Health"? by David Boaz...

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