With the New Year and its associated array of resolutions fast approaching, the Food and Drug Administration has urged Americans contemplating losing weight and getting in shape to keep their health and fitness goals aspirational.
“People have these fantasies about feeling vibrant and alive and comfortable in their bodies," said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. "But health isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
While acknowledging that improving diet and reversing disease might offer some individual advantages, Gottlieb encouraged Americans to think beyond their own selfish aims and consider the bigger economic picture. "If people were actually to achieve their goals of improving their diet and reversing lifestyle-related health maladies like autoimmune disorders, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes, the American economy would all but collapse."
And it is for that very reason, Gottlieb went on to explain, that the federal government subsidizes the meat, dairy, and egg industries to keep prices artificially low, and uses special federal “checkoff” programs to increase overall demand for these products. "What rational person wants his tax dollars to go to waste?" he asked rhetorically.
But it's not just economic concerns that make it important for Americans to keep their health goals in the "not-yet-accomplished" category, emphasized the Commissioner. "People are deluged with messaging about the physical and emotional benefits of daily exercise, but there's also a real down side. For instance, just the other day a woman was raped while running in Central Park!” He shook his head ruefully. “And here she thought she’d be boosting her endorphins.”
Gottlieb warned, too, that despite their well-substantiated health-promoting effects, foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and whole grains - like exercise - pose real risks. “A man in Queens nearly choked to death on a pomegranate seed," he said somberly. "True story - it was in the New York Post. But how often do we hear about mishaps like that?"
He chuckled darkly and added, “And don’t even get me started on nut allergies.”
For those Americans contemplating making changes to their diet and lifestyle to improve their health, Commissioner Gottlieb offered this message:
"Love yourself unconditionally. No matter what size you wear, how many medications you take, or what your cholesterol is, you don't have to change a thing in order to be a valuable member of commercial society. Keep doing what you're doing. You are good enough!"