The United States is nearly 17 trillion dollars in debt, the national unemployment rate is nearly 8%, and one in seven Americans are on food stamps. But fixing those problems is just so hard! So, several courageous politicians have decided to spend their time dictating what we should be allowed to eat. They do this in the name of “keeping us healthy.” How noble of them!
Bureaucratic do-gooders like NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and First Lady Michelle Obama are involved in this “fight against obesity.” Thanks to their programs, rules, and regulations, all of us will be much healthier. These politicians have come to our rescue, with the solutions to obesity in America! Riiight…
Yes, obesity is a problem in America. About 69% of American adults are either overweight or obese. But government regulations and laws are not the answer.
In New York City, Mayor Bloomberg has been politicizing food for years. His “health initiatives” began in 2007 with a ban on trans fat. Next, the city began requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus. Despite these new regulations, the obesity rate has only continued to skyrocket in The Big Apple. In fact, a study conducted by NYU and Yale professors shows that posting calorie counts on menus is useless. The study tracked customers at New York’s most popular fast-food chains: McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King, and Kentucky Fried Chicken. After checking customers’ receipts, the study found that customers had ordered more calories than they had before the labeling law went into effect. Despite these findings, California, Seattle, and other places have gone ahead and instituted similar labeling rules.
Politicians never learn.
Even the Affordable Care Act includes a mandate that forces fast-food chains to post calorie counts of every item for sale. This mandate only forces companies to incur a cost for something that has no demonstrated benefit to its customers. Those higher costs are passed onto consumers via higher prices.
And then there is Michelle Obama’s well-intentioned program called Let’s Move!, defined as a “comprehensive initiative, dedicated to solving the problem of obesity within a generation.” Mrs. Obama, in all her wisdom, gives “healthy” lifestyle advice, advocates for better food in schools, and encourages physical activity through her program (all at the expense of taxpayers, of course). At the launch of Let’s Move!, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum, creating the Task Force on Childhood Obesity. The Task Force was created to develop a “national action plan to maximize federal resources and set concrete benchmarks toward the First Lady’s national goal.” This all sounds very nice, but it is just bureaucrat jargon for “more spending” and “increased government control”.
There is little evidence to suggest that Let’s Move! will be more effective than Bloomberg’s “health initiatives.”
Laws dictating our food choice consistently fail at making us healthier consumers. But the bigger point here is: When did it become the government’s job to control what we eat? Have we become a complete nanny state? Of course, increased food regulation is tied to the advent of public health care. When Washington provides and pays for your health care, it will then try to control what you eat. Government continues growing.
We have all heard of Nanny Bloomberg’s ban on sodas larger than 16 oz in New York City. Thankfully, earlier this month, a common-sense judge named Milton blocked the ban. He recognized that such laws are beyond the remit of the Health Department. Finally, someone understands that regulations on food choice are an extreme case of government overreach.
America is supposed to be the Land of the Free. If people want to make poor food choices, they should be allowed to. Of course, it is unfair to make the rest of us pay for their diabetes and heart disease. This is why ObamaCare (the biggest government power-grab in a generation) must be overturned immediately. In a free country, government cannot dictate lifestyle choices, nor can it become the overprotective Mommy and Daddy of its citizens. Freedom means having the right to make bad choices and then deal with the consequences ourselves.
On a side note, next month I have plans to visit Bloomberg’s beautiful city. I look forward to strolling down Broadway Avenue with my now-legal 20 oz bottle of soda.
Kristin Tate | Emerson College