Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Obesity as Occupational Disease? Update

I wrote the other day about ACOEM's (American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine) curious choice of obesity for their 2004 Labor Day focus.

Brown University's David Egilman had some more observations:
I think Jordan has his dates messed up. Surely based on the date of release this must have been an April Fools joke. Or maybe it is serious and just the program is a joke.

As with tobacco this question presents an epistemological choice. (Of course ACOEM did and does not and will not deal with these. This is an easy answer organization.) Do we solely blame the victim or are there structural issues that "cause or contribute" to obesity?

How about the the obvious corporate efforts to influence children to eat unhealthy foods? Watch any commercials during Sat AM cartoons lately?

What are the corporate medical directors of McDonald's and that great health foundation Kellogg doing about that? Will the ACOEM spur them to action? This is so important (threatening) that ACOEM will avoid all discussion.

How about more subtle issues like stress at work or the distribution of power at work that may contribute to maladaptive behaviors? Will ACOEM call for a 35 hour work week and mandatory unionization? No. These are off the table certainly; they will not be discussed.

Or how about a society whose only raison d'etre is consumption? Should a society be organized around other (even additional) constructs like quality of life (6 weeks vacation), universal health insurance and guaranteed quality primary and secondary education?

David Egilman MD, MPH
Clinical Associate Professor
Brown University