The Case Against Health

by Richard Klein, The Chronicle of Higher Education, November 21, 2010:

‘In the United States, health has become a commodity and an industry. We spend vastly more than any other country on health care, and increasingly our health is our wealth. Even in our down economy, health-care spending continues to grow. In 2006, Americans spent about $35-billion on diets and diet services, in large part under the illusion that they were improving their health. Yet we consistently fall behind Britain, not to mention France, in every measure of public health. Some place American public health just ahead of that of Slovenia.

We may be nearing a point where institutions of public health and the commercial interests that surround it, including the media, do more harm than good to the nation’s health. The official version of health peddled by our current system is not only venal but potentially noxious. In some instances, public health has been transformed into a kind of iatric disease, a medically induced assault on the health of society. Our minders trumpet the obesity epidemic even as epidemiological evidence suggests that “yo-yo dieting” (repeatedly losing and regaining weight over a period of several years) actively damages the immune system. At any given time, it is estimated that 50 percent of all women are on diets, and 95 percent of all diets fail. The more we diet, the fatter we seem to become.’

Do yourself a favour and read the full essay here, and then get the book in which (a version of) it appears, here.

You could do yourself another favour by reading Joe Jackson’s excellent essay on smoking here.

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