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Would We Rather Our Kids Smoke Than Be Fat?

In the battle between bonbons and tobacco, anti-obesity is the new anti-smoking, insofar as teens and public health campaigns are concerned. The...

In the battle between bonbons and tobacco, anti-obesity is the new anti-smoking, insofar as teens and public health campaigns are concerned.

The New York Times asks: "Who will have the harder road in life, or indeed the longer one—the teenage puffer or the chubby child?"


Lately, it's fair to say that we've placed more emphasis on the latter. While Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign has declared 2030 the year that we must reduce childhood obesity, now at 17 percent, down to 5 percent, the anti-smoking movement just failed a significant milestone of its own, to reduce teenage smoking to 16 percent by 2010. The CDC reports that nearly 20 percent of high school students routinely light up.

And as the public shifts its attention, foundation-backed resoures are redirecting their priorities, too, similarly choosing obesity over smoking. Meanwhile, the hope is that interventions like healthier food, more exercise, and possibly even a soda tax will eventually have an impact, but none have yet been proven to dramatically alter a teenager's waistline.

To be sure, it's difficult, if not impossible, to focus the public's attention in all places at one time. But in picking one crusade over another, have we chosen wisely?

Photo of a French anti-smoking ad campaign via.

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