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Obesity Is The Government's Business

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  • John Stossel: What Will Government Ban Next

    Clip: John Stossel argues that the U.S. government already controls too much of our lives, and it should stay out of food regulation. Stossel asks, "will they next try to control skydiving and extra-marital sex?"

  • Dr. David Satcher: Government's Role in Fighting Obesity

    Clip: Former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. David Satcher makes the case for government playing an active role in curbing American obesity.

Debate Details

With 33% of adults and 17% of children obese, the U.S. is facing an obesity epidemic. A major risk factor for expensive, chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, it costs our health care system nearly $150 billion a year.

Should government intervene, or is this a matter of individual rights and personal responsibility?

The Debaters

For the motion

Dr. Pamela Peeke

WebMD Chief Lifestyle Expert

Dr. Pamela Peeke is a nationally renowned physician, scientist and expert in the fields of nutrition, metabolism, stress and fitness. Named one of... Read More

Dr. David Satcher

Former Surgeon General of the United States

Dr. David Satcher served as the 16th Surgeon General of the United States and published America’s first “Call To Action To Prevent and Decrease... Read More

Against the motion

John Stossel

FOX Business News Anchor & Commentator

The host of “Stossel,” a weekly program airing Thursdays at 10 PM EST and midnight on Fox Business Network, John Stossel has received 19 Emmy Awards... Read More

Paul Campos

Author, The Obesity Myth & Law Professor, University of Colorado

Paul Campos is a law professor, author and journalist currently on the faculty of the University of Colorado in Boulder. He is the author of The Obesity... Read More

Where Do You Stand?

For The Motion
  • Obesity is an epidemic. According to the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics, over 1/3 of adults and 17% of children are obese in the U.S.
  • Obesity is a major risk factor in some of the leading causes of death in the U.S., like heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
  • The government can and should provide leadership, education, and funds to fight obesity.
  • Obesity is a substantial burden to health care systems and economies. Medical costs related to obesity in U.S. adults are estimated to be nearly $147 billion per year.
  • We must decrease the availability of unhealthy food and increase its cost.
  • Studies have shown that taxes on unhealthy food and beverages and restrictions on television advertising can reduce long-term health costs.
Against The Motion
  • Government has no business regulating private behavior; it should give people information to make their own decisions.
  • People do not bear the full cost of an unhealthy diet. If people are forced to bear the costs of their choices through privatized health care, they will have financial incentives to make healthier decisions.
  • There is no clear-cut way to determine what is healthy and what unhealthy food is.
  • We are unfairly singling out and punishing a group of people.
  • The obesity "epidemic" is overblown, and the scientific evidence to support claims of higher mortality is lacking.

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The Research

The Research

Defining Overweight and Obesity

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Updated June 21
March 1, 2016

Overweight and obesity are both labels for ranges of weight that are greater than what is generally considered healthy for a given height. The terms also identify ranges of weight that have been shown to increase the likelihood of certain diseases and other health problems.

Does Government Have a Role in Curbing Obesity?

Michael L. Marlow and Alden F. Shiers
March 1, 2016

Economics professors Marlow and Shiers predict government intervention will make obesity worse as it crowds out market-based solutions.

Obesity, Battle of the Bulge-Policy Behind Change: Whose Responsibility Is It and Who Pays?

Adrienne Mercer
December 1, 2010

When addressing responsibility for obese and overweight, all variables must be addressed: the individual, government, community and the food industry must lay claim to the impact of unhealthy choices and lack of access in the nation.

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