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letters | should obesity be considered a disease?

Food companies fuel obesity surge

I MUST disagree with Alex Beam’s conclusion (“My fat problem — and yours” (Op-ed, June 27):

He’s right that when it comes down to it, being obese is a matter of unbalanced inputs and outputs. But it’s more than that. To increase profits, food companies are striving to produce products that people like more, no matter their nutritional value. While these are theoretically better products in terms of their enjoyment value, their nutritional value (or lack thereof) wreaks havoc on our bodies. Some might classify this as an externality.

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Contrary to common belief, several studies show it is possible to become addicted to certain foods. We evolved to crave sugars and fats. In our cave days, those high-energy foods would keep us alive when food was scarce. Sugar and fat activate the same neural pathways in our brain as heroin and nicotine.

Is it implausible to believe that due to natural variation, some people experience a much stronger effect than others? Brain scans taken while overweight and average-sized teenaged girls sip chocolate frappes show just that.

Nobody chooses to be obese, and some obese people have more self-control than some skinny people. If the American Medical Association is going to step up, treat obesity as a disease, and develop experimental treatments, despite societal prejudices, this is a step in the right direction.

In fact, it will probably save you money in the long term from all of the insulin your tax dollars won’t be buying for 35.7 percent of American adults in perpetuity.

Steph Bloch

Cambridge

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