Free Markets, Free People

Government and obesity: Because it does everything else so well

Read the first sentence of the story carefully – the rest flows from there:

A White House report warns, “The childhood obesity epidemic in America is a national health crisis.”

An “epidemic”.  A “national health crisis“.  Got it? 

We have a climate crisis.  Solution: Big government.   We have a financial crisis.  Solution: Big government.  We have a health care crisis.  Solution: Big government.  We have an childhood obesity crisis.

Create a “crisis” and then create the solution. Any guess what the solution might be?  If you’ve been paying attention lately, you do:

The review by the Task Force on Childhood Obesity says one out of every three children is overweight or obese. The task force is a key part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s campaign to solve the problem of obesity within a generation. President Obama ordered the comprehensive review of the issue.

The report includes familiar themes, emphasizing the importance of improved nutrition and physical activity. It also calls for some new and dramatic controls on the marketing of unhealthy foods.

It doesn’t require an advanced college degree to understand the thrust of those two paragraphs. “Solve the problem” is short-hand for enact the necessary controls to achieve the desired government goal “within a generation”.

You’re certainly not going to accomplish that by “suggesting” things be done, are you? And of course, the task force makes that quite clear with its “new and dramatic controls” on the marketing of whatever it or government decides are “unhealthy” foods.

Here’s what that means:

The task force wants junk food makers and marketers to go on what amounts to an advertising diet. It says media characters that are often popular with kids should only be used to promote healthy products. If voluntary efforts fail to limit marketing of less healthy products to young viewers, the task force suggests the FCC should consider new rules on commercials in children’s programming. It also challenges food retailers to stop using in-store displays to sell unhealthy food items to children.

More intrusion, more restrictions, less freedom. And, of course, if they get away with it with children, will the same sorts of restrictions be far behind with adults?


The advisory panel proposes better food content labeling on products and vending machines. Restaurants and vending machine companies are urged to display calorie counts. The experts say the FDA and USDA should cooperate with the food and beverage industries to develop a standard system of nutrition labeling on the front of packages. The study also suggests that restaurants should re-evaluate portion sizes, improve kids’ menus and list more healthy food choices.

Of course the task force is only “suggesting” these “improvements” now, but don’t forget that bold line above, “if voluntary efforts fail …”, well the implication is clear isn’t it? The same agency which has now undertaken to limit your salt intake by fiat is certainly up for dictating portion sizes, what should be on a kids menu and what is and isn’t “unhealthy” don’t you think?

And if you’re still not quite getting it yet, this should drive the point home:

The task force also sees a potential pocketbook approach to keep people from buying unhealthy foods. It calls for analyzing the effect of imposing state and local sales taxes on less healthy products.

Heh … well of course they do. And they’d not be averse to a federal tax either.

So where do they get the idea they have the right to pursue this? We’ll maybe “right” isn’t the proper word, but “power” works.  I think you might have already figured that out by now:

The report found one out of every three children is overweight or obese, conditions that increase their risk of developing diabetes, heart disease and cancer in their lifetimes. The cost of treating obesity-related ailments is estimated to be $150 billion per year.

And the government has put itself in charge of containing health care cost, hasn’t it?

It was that “health care crisis” they just “solved”, remember?

[HT: Jenn F.]



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37 Responses to Government and obesity: Because it does everything else so well

  • Try to look on the bright side. Maybe Janet Napalitano will leave her current position to become “FOOD CZAR”.—-CONEY

  • Want to cut childhood obesity? Eliminate food stamps, school breakfasts, and corn subsdies.

    • kyle8 knows his stuff.  Exactly the problem – especially corn subsidies.  Do you read Dr. Mercola?

  • Eat less. Exercise more. End of crisis.

    The only crisis right now is a lunatic in the White House, a depraved lunatic as Speaker of the House, and Zero Man as the Senate Majority leader.

    Now that’s a crisis.

    • According to Obeyme’s last physical, he “…smokes too much and drinks too much…”, (no mention if he still does “blow”) and HE’S gonna tell us to be healthy? My fat ass, he will!

    • Martin, are you insane!  Eating less?  Exercising?  Impossible!  Everyone knows government is the only answer to this horrible crisis!  We must have more government control over what and how much we eat.  It is the only answer, because, as McQ points out, they do everything else so well.  And Scott Erb, says it doesn’t make us less free.  Remember “Freedom Is Slavery”.

  • How convenient that the new Health Care Reform bill specifies the proper BMI for all of us…..and uses BMI to quantify the term overweight – ‘‘(F) Being overweight, as evidenced by having a Body Mass Index (BMI) over 25.”
    Which shall be considered a ‘Chronic condition”.
    Didn’t take long at all.

  • Here’s an idea: have the feds open fast-food brocolli restaurants across the street from McDonalds restaurants. Then all those people who are starved for nutritious food can flock to the brocolli restaurants while McDonalds goes out of business. Wait, it’s not happening? Oh well, bummer about your stupidity

    • Well see, they’ve figured out how to get past that. Why compete when you can “suggest” the McDonald’s sell healthier food … or else.

    • Not a chance.  Remember the Feds owned the Mustang ranch.  When you can’t make a profit selling whiskey and girls, you cannot make a profit at anything.

  • The school lunch program was created after WWI in conjunction with the War Department to insure that military inductees were nutritionally up to snuff, so I can see that federal involvement of school lunches would continue.
    And to think that nobody has challenged the school lunch program under the aegis of DADT.

  • This talk about being “less free” is a bit misguided.  Are we less free because of restrictions on cigarette advertisers to target children?  If you’ve read some of the literature out there on how children are being actively marketed to — starting at age two — and the tactics used by very wealthy marketers with an array of psychologists charting out how to manipulate children and shape their desires and activities, you’d know that this could also be protecting freedom.   Part of what the state does is protect average folk from manipulation or abuse from more powerful actors, be they mafia gangs or manipulative corporate interests.   The idea that only the government limits freedom and other powerful actors don’t — or that by limiting the powerful actors that limits the freedom of all — is not defensible.  It is shallow, ideological argumentation that ignores reality.

    • bullshit, neither McDonalds, nor Microsoft, nor BP, nor all or any of the corporations combined can force me to buy anything or limit my freedom in any real way.
      Government, on the other hand can tax me, imprison me, fine me, conscript me, censor me, force me to buy health insurance, limit the type and selection of what I purchase, use my own tax dollars to buy propaganda aimed at me, limit my movements, make me stand in long lines, and generally abuse me.
      The Mafia might also be able to do some of that, but they usually only act on those who are foolish enough to get involved in their ciminal enterprises.
      It amazes me the type of mindset that is so full of horror at the abuses of big corporations but quite ok with giving more power to big government. It is like being afaid of a toy poodle while there is a pit bull hanging on your leg.

      • Kyle, psychological manipulation happens to you all the time through advertising.  It is especially effective on children.  Physical force is not the only way, or even the most effective way to get people to do things.    By the way, I’ve often made the same point you make in your last paragraph, turning it around a bit – it amazes me the type of mindset that is so full of horror at the abuses of big government but quite OK with giving more power to big business.  I think both can abuse power, and both need to be held accountable.  I think both are like pit bulls.   Some on the left think government is the poodle and powerful corporations are the bit bull.   On the right, they follow your comparison.  But reality is that not only are they both dangerous, but almost always they are in bed together.

        • here is the problem you cannot reign in the so called abuses of Big Business (I would not call advertising an abuse. it is idiotic to think that the averge person is a brain dead robot who is mesmerized by advertising), you cannot reign them in without giving even more power to the government, power that they have shown all too willing in the past to abuse.

          • Glad you’re on this, kyle8.  You make a good point.  Keep in mind that big business would not be quite so powerful were it not for the close political ties they keep.  Cut back gummint, you cut back the strength of mega-business, too.

          • I think you are being naive about the power of advertising to manipulate behavior.  Certainly companies who employ psychologists and child psychologists and spend millions of dollars to push their products disagree with you.  But yes, I will give power to government to counter the power of big money.  It’s a balance.  The hard part is to keep government and big money from forming a partnership.   I really think you are so scared of government that you don’t recognize that private sector big money really controls and manipulates the game.   To be truly libertarian you have to recognize that BOTH government and powerful private sector actors can work against freedom.

        • I was just telling someone, Scott, how impressed I’ve always been with your drive to find new ways to lie.

          Government is force. It forces itself on you. You have no choice. But I haven’t had a bottle of Coke in probably fifteen years. Or bought Geico car insurance. Or had any Hot Pockets, ever.

          But I have to buy the public schools, you see, or they take my house away.

          You know all this, but you always find a fresh new way to lie about it. Well, maybe not that fresh or that new.

    • “Part of what the state does is protect average folk from manipulation or abuse from more powerful actors, be they mafia gangs or manipulative corporate interests. ”
      If you added “lefty educators and their powerful political interests” then I would be on board.

    • *snicker*
      “starting at age two”?
      Yeah, right.
      That’s one heck of a conspiracy you’ve found there, Erbie. I see you have been using The National Enquirer in your extensive research into whatever. Just a suggestion, but research is usually done in a library, not a supermarket.

      • You show your ignorance, Tim. At age two brand name recognition starts, and advertisers start there.  The fact you’d see this as a “conspiracy,” when it’s uncontroversial and admitted reality shows just how out of touch you are.   I suggest you read “Consumed”‘ by Dr. Benjamin Barber for a start.  I can also get you a list of literature about how children are targeted by marketers.   The fact you see this as something unbelievable demonstrates just how little you know about this particular subject.

    • “Part of what the state does is protect average folk from manipulation or abuse from more powerful actors, be they mafia gangs or manipulative corporate interests. ”
      Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

    • Yes we are less free because of restrictions on cigarettes.  (Even advertising.  How do you find out about smaller brands that have no additives and cotton filters rather than fiberglass?  I found an obscure brand quite by accident and it quickly became my favorite.)  My favorite cigarettes are made by the Seneca tribe.  There are only a few outlets around the county.  Therefore, I have them delivered to me.  Now, in order to “save the children”, they can no longer be mailed through US post.  Restrictions already exist with FedEx and UPS.  So, I have to smoke nasty gas station cigs because my uber-smooth, cotton filtered choice has been STOLEN from me.  Sucks.  Don’t kid yourself.  It’s not “for the children”.  It’s so big businesses can sell their product with minimal challenge from smaller competitors.  I feel certain the elimination of competition is the primary objective of these regulations.

    • It’s called parenting.  The government is not/should never act as the parent.

      • The notion that parents are not the right choice for raising children has an old and established pedigree on the Left.

        In today’s America the public schools, for instance, are very hungry to get some of the parenting action, and have been quite successful in that regard.

        The “Diversity” movement is a very big platform for that. I’ve defined “Diversity” as “We’re replacing you values with ours.”

  • So… Uncle Sugar is getting into the business of telling us when we’re “too fat” and forcing us to get into shape, eh?  Maybe we can have universal morning calisthenics a la Winston Smith.

    This might actually turn Michael Moore into, if not a conservative, then at least a libertarian!

    On the subject of Uncle Sugar “protecting” us from eeeeevil corporations, I recall seeing part of Algore’s acceptance speech back in 2000.  One line stuck with me: he droned on about how common Americans are threatened by “powerful forces” and the government – headed by him, of course – needed to act to protect them.  This is how idiot liberals (BIRM) see the world: government is ALWAYS benevolent (unless there’s a Republican in charge, of course) and corporations are ALWAYS malevolent (unless they are unionized, run by big-time democrat contributors, and haven’t done anything to embarrass their democrat masters, like a big oil spill or making too much money in the stock market).  What they can’t quite get their diseased minds to comprehend is exactly what kyle8 says above: corporati0ns have no ability to limit a person’s freedom, while government has the power to take his property, freedom, and even his life.  I can stop going to McDonald’s or Wally-world anytime I choose; I can refuse to buy gas from BP or Exxon; I can refuse to buy an I-pod, Windows software, or a Prius.  Nothing will happen to me if I do these things.  If, however, I refuse to buy health insurance, or pay my license plate fee, or pay my income tax, or keep my BMI where Uncle Sugar tells me that it ought to be, then I will be fined.  If I refuse to pay the fine, I will be imprisoned.  If I resist the police when they come to haul me off, I will be killed.

    And corporations are what I should fear?????

    I often wonder about what (if anything) goes on in a liberal’s brain.  Are they really so hapless, so helpless, so bloody stupid that they really feel the need to have a bureaucrat tell them how to live their lives?  Can we just repeal the XIII Amendment and put these people into slavery?  It seems to me that, so long as the terms aren’t too onerous, they would be happy in that degraded condition.  As a bonus, we can ensure that they don’t get too much information; as their messiah recently noted, too much information is bad because it causes confusion, and we wouldn’t want to put that sort of stress on them, would we?

    • Well, government is always benevolent, in the RIGHT hands Doc – that is, the hands of the “Left”.
      We spent 8 years living under a BAD government – it blew up the World Trade Center, and the levee’s in New Orleans, caused earth quakes and tsunami’s with  magical evil government machines, killed millions of innocent civilians in Iraq with a war for oil, and one in Afghanistan to do, well, not sure, but it was equally bad, though not as bad as the Iraq war, even if it was ‘good’ it was bad.   It was mean, it didn’t like colored people, it wanted to kick out immigrants, it was only interested in making money for evil corporations who had bought and paid for all it’s Senators and Congressmen and it’s President.
      It took away the rights of American citizens with it’s eavesdropping and uncharged imprisonments and other egregious violations of basic rights of other people in places like Gitmo.   It was a colossal waster of tax payer money, and it engineered the housing market bubble that caused economic disaster nearly world wide.    It allowed corporations to run wild and stifled creativity in helpful companies like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
      But now, today, even as I type this, the “Government” has, through election of the proper Senators, and Congressmen, and certainly the President, become kind, and good, and benevolent, wanting only to look out for our absolute best interests in our diet, and lifestyle, and health care.  This ‘new’ Government is clean, and clear, and having been recreated entirely from scratch on Jan 20, 2009, is staffed with honest, sincere men and women who will never do anything that was not for our own good.  It is a miracle, the miracle of hope, the miracle of change.

      • I believe there is a need for a sarcasm font.

        • Sarcasm?  No!  Somewhere out there is a person who believes nearly every word I typed in the first 2 paragraphs.  And, believe nearly every word in the third.   They are of the true belief that THEIR politicians are only good, and THEIR government will only bring about goodness, without pausing to realize that about 98% of the things they hated when GW was President were conceived and implemented by the very same people who are still doing the very same jobs under Obama today.    The special moon ponies and unicorns of joy swept away all the badness.

          • I’m sorry to say that there are PLENTY of people who believe every word that you wrote.  And they all voted for Imeme.

            Well, almost all.  Some of them were either too drug-addled or just plain dumb to make their way to the voting booth on election day.

  • …and if you don’t think they’ll stop at what you eat, you’ve been drinking… speaking of which, you know as sure as the sun rises, that’ll be the next controlled substance… for you’re health, you see?

  • Nice little happy meal you’ve got there.  Be a shame if somethin’ were to happen to it.

  • {facepalm}
    Yes, because banning cigarette ads & liquor ads worked so well; hardly anyone smokes or drinks these days!
    You don’t have to be libertarian to realize that the Federal government has no constitutional right to dictate dietary requirements to private citizens. If they want to provide lunch aid, and specify “healthy” foods, that’s fine; they’re paying the bill.  As for anything else, not only is it an invasion of our right to make our own choices, the guidelines provided are, at best, absurd. I cite the proposed ban on salt in restaurants in New York State in evidence.  Apparently no one told those dolts you need salt in order for bread to rise.  In fact, salt is a required intake for good heath; it’s too much that’s the problem, but bureaucratic twits with an “anything not prohibited is compulsory” approach is not the answer.
    I’ll also point out that jacking up prices on cigarettes worked so well, to the point where the government is making more money off sales than the companies.
    Scott Erb: I don’t doubt companies target certain demographic groups, and some of your more-outlandish-sounding claims may bear some truth. But in your paranoid fear of the seductive power of the Dark Side of The Force (advertising) you seem to have forgotten a couple basic approaches for parents. One is: turn off the idiot tube. Get rid of cable. If you want to watch movies, rent them locally or try Netflix. No TV, no ads. Another one is: use the word “no” more often in day-to-day conversation, as in “NO we aren’t buying that junk.”
    It’s called “parenting.” Perhaps you heard of it?
    The track record of government (no matter which party is in charge) with respect to health concerns, especially tobacco & liquor,  leaves me completely unimpressed with their competence. Yet the answer is always “More cowbell!!”