National Opinions

San Gabriel Valley Tribune: Obesity and malnutrition

Obesity and hunger are two sides of the very serious public health problem of malnutrition.

It's no coincidence that some of the heaviest people typically have the worst diets -- sugary soda for breakfast, fast food and convenience store cuisine.

That's why we were glad to hear Agriculture Secretary nominee Tom Vilsack talk about putting "nutrition at the center of all food-assistance programs administered by the department."

Some might argue that if people want to eat poorly, that's their right. But the country doesn't have to subsidize such self-destructive behavior and, in fact, has an obligation to encourage otherwise.

The public health costs of obesity have been measured in myriad ways. Obese people frequently develop chronic ailments that all of us end up paying for, either through increased health-care premiums or through tax dollars for government- subsidized health care.

This is a prime time for Vilsack.