Alex Munter, President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario, wrote an op-ed piece in the Toronto Star titled, “Childhood obesity an epidemic,” that was published the Friday before last. In the article, Munter states that childhood obesity is a defining health issue of our generation that requires significant change on a number of levels (e.g., societal, political).

From the op-ed:

When it comes down to it, smoking and childhood obesity aren’t very different. Both are defining health issues of their generation. Both have a huge financial impact on our society. Both necessitate significant change — change that spans law, politics and human behaviour.

Ten years ago, I was chair of Ottawa’s health committee during the debate that led to Ottawa becoming the first major city to ban smoking from public places. Emotions ran high. Many believed it wasn’t the city’s place to regulate people’s health choices, while others worried that restaurants would fail and jobs would be lost.

I was quoted at the time as saying, “Ten years from now we’ll hardly even remember what the big fuss was about.”

And, for the most part, that is true. We now watch episodes of Mad Men and are shocked to see people smoking in workplaces. We can no longer imagine going to our favourite restaurant and eating among puffs of smoke. No one would seriously say, “Let’s bring cigarettes back to public places.”

Click here to read the op-ed in full.