Not Making This Up: CDC Investigates an "Outbreak of Obesity" - in West Virginia
Is it April 1st? The NYT reports that the US Centers for Disease Control sent a crew to West Virginia -- at the state's request -- "to study an outbreak of obesity in the same way it studies an outbreak of an infectious disease."
Apparently West Virginia -- roughly equivalent, I suppose, to parts of Scotland in regard to healthy diets -- ranks third in the US for obesity. The Times says a state bureaucrat considered this unsurprising-to-most-Americans situation "a severe health crisis." What's worse, the CDC apparently agreed, and followed up with an unprecedented three-week, federal-level investigation of a county and a small city's shopping and dining habits.
Daniel McGee, a professor of statistics at Florida State University who has analyzed obesity data, burst out laughing when he heard about it. "My God, what a strange thing to do," he said.
"They'll find out what we all know - that the country is no longer set up for physical exercise," Dr. McGee said. And that schoolchildren "don't get a nutritious diet." And that "there is a lot of high-fat food on the shelves of every supermarket."
But, he said, "that doesn't tell you much. I'm sure skinny people go to those same restaurants....Skinny kids go to those same schools."
Update 04 Jun 2005: The AP has another amazing quote:
"The purpose was not so much to determine what we already know and that is that poor nutrition and physical inactivity can lead to obesity," CDC spokesman Llelwyn Grant said Friday.And determining this access required the intervention of the Centers for Disease Control? Couldn't the West Virginia state government make a few phone calls to its own employees throughout the state?
The purpose was to find out whether people have access to healthy food and exercise options, he said.