WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Americans are getting heavier than ever, with more than 26 percent of the population now fully obese, the U.S. government reported on Wednesday.
On the surface, it’s likely a lack of exercise and overeating that has super-sized us. I still shake my head when I see a line of cars dropping off/picking up children at school. On really nice days. No exercise there.
Looking deeper, I see this as part of our society wide increasing time preference – “I want it now” vs. delayed gratification. Choosing to eat right, get a bit of exercise, etc. looks at the long term benefit of being healthy. Over eating because it tastes/feels good right in the moment while disregarding the negative effects is short term thinking. It’s the same process as not saving money, running up credit card balances, and squandering home equity.
Increasing time preference is part of the process of decivilization. Here’s a rather dense link: http://books.google.com/books?id=GbuqsrqKU5kC&pg=PA1&lpg=PA1&dq=decivilization+time+preference+hoppe&source=bl&ots=3MouWmrYGH&sig=VPVti4lgFn8iX2qpeF7v7LmCxc0&hl=en&ei=mRtWSvmvCobqsQPhh630AQ&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1