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Wednesday
Aug172011

New York Times Columnist Mark Bittman and the Food Police are Wrong

In a piece for Forbes today, The Hoover Institution’s Dr. Henry Miller and I write that,

Activists, local government bureaucrats and federal officials continue to come up with dubious ways to promote health and reduce obesity.  

We examine three initiatives favored by the food cops: mandatory calorie counts on chain restaurant menus, punitive taxes on certain foods and limits on “junk food” advertising.   

We find that the plans are either supported by flimsy or conflicting science, or they are so intrusive that Americans will find them intolerable.
 
This is a problem because plans that are ineffective or untenable won’t solve a real problem. As we conclude,

We are as concerned as anyone about obesity’s effects on public health, but we believe that governmental, taxpayer-funded approaches to it should be evidence-based, cost-effective and non-authoritarian.  Just as too much candy and soda tends to “crowd out” more nutrient-rich and less calorie-dense foods and drinks, flawed approaches can crowd out better ideas.  Are politicians coming up with those better ideas?  Fat chance.

Please note: I did not choose the headline used in Forbes, nor do I think it is appropriate to use the word “fat,” even as part of an (otherwise appropriate) play on words. Thanks to food cop Michele Simon for sensitizing me to this. It is so rare that we agree, I point out when we do.

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