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Maher is right again – slash COVID deaths by attacking obesity

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Bill Maher Is Right Again – Slash COVID Deaths by Attacking Obesity; Fauci, Birx, Redfield, Adams, All Blamed For Silence on Major Factor Causing Deaths

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Bill Maher Blames Dr. Fauci For Many Unnecessary COVID-19 Deaths

WASHINGTON, D.C. (AUGUST 3, 2020) -  Comedian Bill Maher just blamed Dr. Anthony Fauci, and other leading administration experts on the coronavirus, for many unnecessary deaths from COVID-19 by virtually never even mentioning "the one major thing most people could do to ensure a better outcome . . .  It's such a scandal. . . . Why not an all-out campaign to educate the public on the dangers of a diet of sugary chemical laden crap."

He blames political correctness, saying: "you're playing with peoples' lives. If you're always on about how this is a life-and-death issue, and it is, we can't have body positivity be a third rail any more.  Political correctness can kill.  . . .  This is too fundamental to who lives who dies."

In his criticism Maher called out, by name, infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams.

Maher is clearly correct, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who has led the movement to use legal action - fat law suits - against obesity to fight not only America's second most deadly and costly public health problem, but also to help slash the unnecessary deaths from COVID-19.  For that, Professor Banzhaf has been called the lawyer "Who's Leading the Battle Against Big Fat," and "The Man Big Tobacco and Now Fast Food Love to Hate."  Recently, like Maher he argued:

"Americans are being bombarded with messages urging them to take steps - such as hand washing, keeping their distance, wiping surfaces, etc. - to reduce deaths from the coronavirus, but little about making other changes which could likewise slash the COVID-19 death toll, and in addition also save millions of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars in other unnecessary medical costs."

"If governments can mandate Americans to stay in their homes, shut many businesses, wear masks, as well as put huge numbers of people out of work to combat only one disease [COVID-19], logically they should be willing to take other measures, - which are much less intrusive and only minimally disruptive - to reduce it, as well as other major causes of unnecessary deaths, disability, and massive medical costs by attacking obesity; e.g., by taking well-proven and no-cost steps such as limiting commercials, adding warning labels, banning cartoon figures, etc. "

Using Fat Shaming To Attack Obesity

In another recent HBO comedy special, Maher had suggested using fat shaming to attack America's second most serious and expensive public health problem after smoking, despite objections from many liberals (whom he called "the NRA of mayonnaise"), and from the so-called fat acceptance movement.

Maher ridiculed that movement which excoriates anyone who criticizes a person for being fat - accusing such critics of suffering from fat-phobia and sizeism - and drawing an analogy to criticizing someone who is drunk; saying sarcastically "How dare you drink-shame me - being blotto is beautiful."

In response, Banzhaf pointed out that shaming smokers - making them feel, in their own words, like "social pariahs" - was tremendously effective in helping people who smoked do what most already wanted to do.

Indeed, he wrote a law review article showing that while there may be little comparable data proving that similarly shaming people who are obese helps them to lose weight, if it worked to help people with a hard core addiction to a deadly and highly addictive drug like nicotine, it might likewise help people who absentmindedly pile more food onto their plates than they really need or is healthful for them.

Banzhaf noted that the antismoking messages he helped get on the air - many of which poked fun at smokers - caused the first major drop in cigarette consumption, something even the Surgeon General's report, issued a few years earlier, was unable to do.

In this regard, he also points to both private and governmental actions aimed at shaming people into wearing masks during the pandemic.

If it works, and we use it to encourage mask wearing and discourage smoking - as well as to reduce drunk driving, drug abuse, date rape, spousal abuse, and many other problems - how can we be so sure that it would not also work for obesity, asks Banzhaf.

The Economic Cost

In arguing for a stronger governmental response to reduce obesity, he noted that the major portion of the $1.72 trillion cost to the economy caused by obesity (as estimated by a recent study) is unfairly borne by taxpayers in the form of higher taxes to pay for obesity-caused - and therefore totally unnecessary - medical care expenses under Medicare, Medicaid, and other governmental programs, as well as in bloated inflated health insurance premiums.

Banzhaf also pointed to a recent study which showed how the U.S. can slash its obesity rate by taking the same simple steps which Chile took four years ago, and which other countries are beginning to follow.  The new policies - which are already being copied in part by Peru, Uruguay, Israel, Brazil, Mexico, and other countries - include:

  • Advertising restrictions on unhealthy foods,
  • Bans on unhealthy food commercials from 6AM to 10PM
  • Bold front-of-package black-box warning labels
  • No more cartoons on sugary cereal boxes
  • A ban on junk foods available in schools
  • Raising the tax (already in effect in some jurisdictions) on sugary soft drinks

With regard to the last policy, Banzhaf notes a CNN report that "taxing sugar levels in soda could prevent 2 million US cases of diabetes and cardiovascular disease," and save $105 billion.

"If the U.S. can require citizens to wear masks, and require some businesses to shut down for months at a time, it can certainly engage in much less intrusive nudges - such as health warnings, small taxes on sodas, and limits on advertising - to deal with a risk to public health such as obesity, which is at least as deadly by itself, and at least as costly as COVID-19," argues Banzhaf.

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