The next Administration will face a much greater challenge: Ensuring that Americans live longer lives in good health. If they don't, the cost to the nation will be astronomical, given heavy reliance on Medicare for older Americans and the sad fact that Americans younger than 50 are sicker than people in other wealthy nations.
Brand-new research reveals that whether a child is normal weight, overweight, or obese at age 5 is hugely indicative of weight at age 50. If a child is obese at age 9, the correlation is even greater; at age 15, it's still worse. This extraordinary finding means that trajectories of weight gain starting at age 5 can be linked through ages 9 and 15 all the way to middle age.
The challenge of mobilizing aggressively on the current scale is a daunting one, even without second-guessing from people with no experience in fighting disease. Wasting resources by following casual advice -- even if adamantly spoken and mightily propelled -- would make the tragedy of this disease even greater.
We need experienced leaders who can plot out a principled, unified direction for our future, articulate objectives that create good for all of us, and draw the nation together in a shared vision. Our elected officials have let us down in this department. We do have one remarkable, untapped resource for such leadership.