Editor’s note: Every issue of TheBlaze Magazine contains exclusive content not found anywhere else—online or in print. The magazine’s stories, research and special reports are reserved for subscribers to the print edition (yes, there is a digital version of the magazine that works on your mobile devices, too), which is created by the same team that brings you TheBlaze.com.
The January-February 2013 cover story by Tiffany Gabbay takes a look at the busybodies in government who are pretty sure they know exactly what Americans should and shouldn’t eat and how their working to make sure everyone follows their rules.
Below are a few small excerpts from Tiffany’s cover story (“Gov’t Mommies to Citizen Children: ‘Don’t Eat That!’”). Her full report and analysis is available only in the December 2012 issue of TheBlaze Magazine.
As we Americans ring in the new year with myriad resolutions intended to improve our lives on physical, mental and even emotional levels, one thing is certain: Minding our diets and the foods we eat will undoubtedly play a substantial role in many of our long-term goals. While this new path toward more healthful eating habits is riddled with pitfalls, given the many goodie-indulgent festivities we enjoy throughout the year, luckily our ever-watchful Uncle Sam will be there guiding us every step of the way—whether we want him to or not!
Yes, like a personal Richard Simmons, with state- and city-led bans on food products deemed to contain “excessive” amounts of sugar, sodium or trans fats, governments at all levels have been stepping up efforts to control the way people eat and how restaurants and food manufacturers alike conduct business.
While a contingent of Americans welcome stricter food regulations, claiming such rules help people make better choices, those who favor personal freedom mirror a sentiment once put forth by the late, great Ronald Reagan: “I don’t believe in a government that protects us from ourselves.”
… In 2007, the New York City Board of Health, at the behest of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, enacted a regulation forcing restaurants to eliminate all use of partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, a staple in the preparation of fried foods and main source of trans fats in the American diet. … Research conducted in the summer of 2012 of restaurant diners in New York revealed that the city’s ban on trans fats actually promoted fast-food eaters to choose healthier options and even reduce their overall intake of trans fat following the ban.
The new analysis concluded that, following the ban, the average consumption of trans fat dropped from 3 grams to 0.5 gram. Opponents argue that this is not credible proof of people acquiring better eating habits as they were never given any other option—their food choices were made for them.
The study, conducted by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, compared the lunchtime meals of people who consume fast food from 2007 and 2009, both before and after the city enacted its trans-fat ban, and found: “In 2009, the average diner’s fast-food meal contained about 2.4 g less trans fats, down to about half a gram of trans fat per meal. More people also bought menu items with 0% trans fat after the restriction went into place, representing an 86% increase in these healthier options over a two-year period.”
With success like this documented in credible studies, opponents of government-led measures to curb people’s eating habits have an uphill battle ahead of them as city officials simply say they have all the proof they need that food bans and restrictions work.
Naturally, proponents of the ban will also continue to tout the fact that trans fats contribute to heart disease and obesity, thus measures to restrict its use are for the common good—a theme often cited by those seeking to increase the size and scale of the Nanny State. …
… Of course, New York City has been leading the charge in this crusade against unhealthy food with Mayor Bloomberg—sometimes dubbed “Nanny Bloomberg”—proudly at the helm. No one could forget the summer of 2012 and his now-infamous “Big Gulp Ban,” which was meant to prohibit the sale of sugary beverages in excess of 16 fluid ounces.
In fact, New York City’s Department of Health even has a “director of nutrition strategy” whose role is to determine the way people eat. Christine Curtis, who holds the position, lauded Bloomberg’s soda ban, stating, “We hope this makes it clear that there is an opportunity for local jurisdictions to protect the health of their consumers.”
The First Lady
You might also recall that on the second anniversary of first lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity crusade, “Let’s Move,” the health-food warrior hosted a round-table discussion in Fort Worth, Texas, with parents committed to healthier eating.
But the locale was no accident. Olive Garden’s parent company, Darden Restaurants, has vowed to offer healthier eating options for children. In 2011, the corporation, which also owns Red Lobster and Longhorn Steakhouse, signed a “binding legal agreement” with the Partnership for a Healthier America, the non-profit that was created to operate “Let’s Move,” to cut calories, offer healthier fruit and vegetable side dishes, reduce sodium and give free refills of 1 percent milk to children.
The first lady’s appearance at one of the Darden restaurants was meant to underscore her role in helping to spur the company’s sudden newfound commitment to healthier eating choices.
It Never Stops
The Nanny State is always born out of the best of intentions. Few would argue, for instance, that wearing a safety belt while driving isn’t the right thing to do if one wishes to emerge from a potential accident alive. In turn, choosing a diet devoid of unnecessary sugars, fats and sodium will only help one achieve better overall health. At the end of the day, the issue is not whether these commonsense measures are better for you, the issue is whether it is the government’s place to dictate the personal choices of a private citizen.
Personal responsibility is a concept evaporating from society as quickly as trans fats are being banned, and following Uncle Sam down that slippery slope called “the common good” will catch up with us eventually.
And now, with the implementation of ObamaCare and the progressives’ never-ending push for universal health care, the fight against the government’s nannyism becomes that much more difficult to combat. Those invested in receiving or controlling government-run health care are going to ask: Why should Peter pay for Paul’s care when Paul is consuming fried foods and sugary drinks? Therefore, Paul (and everyone else) must have his diet dictated for him.