The Public Interest

The new gospel of health

Ronald W. Dworkin

Fall 2000

OVER the last two decades, the public has come to embrace the importance of the “healthy life style,” which is said to include a proper attention to diet, regular exercise, no smoking, and less alcohol. The healthy life style has even become a political movement, with tobacco opponents being the most aggressive. In the view of conservatives, the health activists are trying to create a “nanny” state, while the activists insist that they are simply practicing preventive medicine. But there is a deeper consequence to the efforts of health activists, one that neither they nor their opponents fully appreciate. The healthy life-style movement is setting the stage for a new explanation and justification for why people become ill and suffer.

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