Advancing a Free Society

Fat-uous Approaches To the Obesity Problem

Thursday, August 18, 2011

This post is co-written with Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

Activists, local government bureaucrats and federal officials continue to come up with dubious ways to promote health and reduce obesity.  These approaches are either supported by meager or conflicting evidence or they are so intrusive that Americans will find them intolerable.

Consider the top three initiatives favored by the self-styled food police: mandatory calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, punitive taxes on certain foods and limits on “junk food” advertising.  This push for Big Brother to monitor and influence our food consumption comes from a coalition of a handful of academics, a network of NGO activist groups, nanny-state government bureaucrats and a smattering of food writers.  The taxes and bans on advertising underscore how out of touch these activists are with the American conviction that individuals, rather than governments, are ultimately responsible for behavior.

Interventions that confuse plausibility with provability or that fly in the face of evidence are commonly found in the food police handbook.

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