So now we turn to governments for help. But in a liberal democracy, the state is almost helpless to the task of battling obesity. Bureaucracies have a way of staying around long after they are of any use. Can anyone say that “ParticiPACTION”, a program that’s been around since 1972, has had any effect on rising obesity levels in Canada? As far as nudging and soft drink taxes are concerned, the marginal benefits will most likely end up embarrassing their advocates for the little good they do.

If there’s anything to be learned it’s that weight is a deeply personal challenge that can only be solved one person at a time, and only when we as individuals come to the conclusion that we’ve had enough. For that to happen, you have to change your life. And no government program can do that for you.

Patrick Luciani is a Senior Fellow of the University of Toronto’s Global Cities Program and AIMS Senior Fellow in Urban Policy 

*This piece appeared in the Globe and Mail