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The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that a number of US congressmen have proposed a $256 million program that would fight obesity in the US, with allocations that would include:

• $125 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct a Youth Media Campaign

• $10 million to train health care professionals

• $40 million for local obesity prevention programs

• $40 million on anti-obesity programs in schools

• $40 million to help local hospitals and clinics conduct obesity awareness programs

• $1 million to study the effectiveness of nutrition and weight-loss programs

According to a recent poll, 80 percent of people in the US over age 25 are overweight, up from 58 percent in 1983, with as many as 300,000 premature deaths each year attributed to obesity-related health problems.

Among the sponsors in the House of Representatives are Reps. Kay Granger (R-Texas), Mary Bono (R-Calif.), Mike Castle (R-Del.), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.), and Tim Johnson (R-Ill.).

Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is sponsoring a companion measure in the Senate.
KC's View:
This story broke Friday after we’d posted MNB for the day. However, before the day was out and before we’d written a word about it on the site, we had an email from MNB user Bob Vereen:

“I read that someone had proposed a bill costing $250 million for the government to get involved in urging people to improve their fitness…it’s one of the reasons why our deficit grows--stupid expenditure of tax dollars.

“There is enough free media exposure of the rewards and needs of fitness without the government throwing $250 million (to start with; budget sure to go up in the future) at this already widely publicized condition.”

This will probably be a common enough reaction, and on the face of it the perception is probably correct. After all, will this $250 million suddenly turn Americans physically fit? We doubt it.

Another question is how that figure of $250 million will compare to the damages sought by the various plaintiffs who will blame fast food restaurants, consumer packaged goods companies and even perhaps food retailers for their ample bellies, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and rapidly declining health?

We do believe, however, that educational campaigns that target young people and help prevent them from developing weight problems seem to be sensible. Just don’t let the government run them.

By the way, a note about the co-sponsors of the bill. Lest anyone complain about the damned liberals intruding on people’s personal lives, note that all but one of the co-sponsors in the House is a Republican. (Rep. Granger says President Bush -- an avid jogger and workout enthusiast -- supports the bill.)

And, we know that Sen. Frist is serious – not just because he happens to be a medical doctor, but because he’s serious about keeping himself in shape. Last October, in the Marine Corps Marathon, we found ourselves running next to him…but just for a moment. After that, we only saw his back, and then he disappeared into the distance.