Why isn't obesity an election issue?

As I've mentioned multiple times before, obesity is a huge issue affecting millions of people. Fully one third of Americans are obese or overweight, and one in five elementary school children. This is a shocking statistic that should have us all running around like crazy trying to find a solution, no matter the cost. But our politicians, with the valiant exception of Michelle Obama, are basically ignoring the situation. One of my favorite bloggers, Yoni Freedhoff of Weighty Matters, wrote this excellent article that I just had to share. While he writes from a Canadian perspective, the situation in the U.S. is almost identical. Thanks to Mr. Freedhoff for his permission to reprint it. I haven't changed any words except when inserting "Americans" for "Canadians."

So here we are in [America] in the midst of an election. Promises are being made, platforms are being unveiled, and politicians are prowling the land.

So let's pretend for a moment there was this problem in [America]. A public health problem, and it was a biggie.

Let's say there was a virus out there, and for arguments sake, let's say it was killing 25,000 [Americans] a year while afflicting millions. And if that's not bad enough, lets say that this virus was a particularly nasty one, in that if it didn't kill you, it markedly increased your risk of getting a whole slew of other medical conditions. Worse yet, this virus wasn't silent. Infection with this virus was visible to the naked eye, and consequently sufferers became regular targets of societal bias. Infection also lead many to suffer with marked fatigue, and also made completing activities of daily living more challenging, with difficulty rising with degree of infection.

Let's say too that while there was no vaccine or treatment that worked for everyone, there were both public health and medical interventions that might make a difference, if even just to combat the rising negative bias in society, as sufferers were ridiculed regularly, and even had their visible affliction leading them to lower salaries and fewer promotions. Let's also say that amazingly and shockingly, medical schools and other health care professions weren't being taught how to deal with this virus, and that the media had a bad habit of blaming those with it as being personally responsible for contracting it.

And let's say that one quarter of all [Americans] were infected.

I'm guessing that virus would be one hell of an election issue.

And yet the leaders and parties are virtually silent on obesity, a chronic relapsing disease that kills, sickens, stigmatizes, and challenges millions of [Americans]. Our medical schools don't teach our young doctors how to deal with it, and our government spends comparatively nothing on it. 

... Someone's got to stir things up! 

We need politicians to see this as a priority, and we shouldn't elect those that don't.