Two articles that reflect very different conceptions of what causes obesity, and therefore how to address it.

First, in the LA Times, a report that diet and exercise alone are no cure for obesity:

For most of the nation’s 79 million adults and 13 million kids who are obese, the “eat less, move more” treatment, as currently practiced, is a prescription for failure, these experts say.

Meanwhile in Britain, the Conservative government has proposed withholding benefits payments for those who could, as the Guardian puts it, “do more to help themselves…lose weight”:

People who cannot work because they are overweight or suffering addiction problems could be threatened with losing their sickness benefits if they do not accept treatment under plans due to be outlined by David Cameron on Saturday.

Under proposals that are likely to be met with resistance from charities and some medics, the Conservatives will consider whether to reduce payments worth about £100 a week for those they consider could do more to help themselves by going on medical programmes designed to make them to lose weight, stop taking drugs or give up alcohol.

The issue really comes down to whether obesity is a matter of personal choice. Prime Minister David Cameron believes it is:

[P]eople have problems with their weight that could be addressed, but instead a life on benefits rather than work becomes the choice.

While Christopher Ochner in the LA times suggests the opposite:

“What really bothers me working around and with clinicians, is that some of them–a disturbing percentage–still believe it’s all about personal choice: that if the patient just tries hard enough, and if we can just figure out how to get them a little more motivated, then we’d be successful. And that’s just not right.”

The disconnect makes you wonder who benefits from the myth that diet and exercise are a cure for obesity. The documentary “Fed Up” suggests that the food industry, and particularly the sugar industry, had a lot to gain by pretending that Americans were gaining because of calories and exercise, and not because of the increasing quantities of sugar in the food that is all around us.