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People need to eat right — or else!

 

There is a war on drugs, a war on poverty, and a war on terror, but we can’t seem to win on any of these fronts.

The government is fighting to control big oil, big pharma, and now it’s “big soda,” as advocates for forced healthy eating are fond of calling it. Actually, the subject of passing laws to help people make healthy choices is quite contradictory.

Laws are requirements that demand adherence, so if something is a law, the opportunity for choice no longer exists.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg ignited the debate with a proposed ban on sugar-sweetened drinks larger than 16 ounces. It’s unclear whether the law prohibits a customer from buying, say, two 12-ounce drinks, instead of one large drink. Will they call the sugar police on you if you do? Who is responsible for enforcing it? The one who buys the contraband sweetness or the one who sells it?

The law of good intentions certainly applies here. It’s a good thing to address the problem of obesity, but is passing more laws the best way to go about it?

The ultimate irony may be the fact that the problem of obesity is far worse in impoverished areas such as Richmond, Calif., which is described as “one of the neediest communities in the Bay Area.”

In November, Richmond voters will be asked to approve a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugar-sweetened drinks. Richmond’s approach is a bit different than is New York’s. In Richmond, it would be more like the cigarette tax. You can smoke all you want, or eat all the sugar you want, just as long as the taxman gets his cut.

There are a number of reasons for obesity among people in poor areas, of course. Poverty usually means less control over one’s life, including eating habits, and less purchasing power so that people often tend to make choices that lead to unhealthy diets.

The irony here is that people who are impoverished would have been provided with federally approved school lunches, breakfasts, and snacks through the National School Lunch Program. The national school lunch program has only been around since 1946 to provide “nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day.”

With the government in charge of nutrition, the problems with diabetes and obesity have skyrocketed.

Leave it to the government to solve a problem in one agency by creating another agency and more laws. The best of intentions cannot make it right.

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 sets policy for the National School Lunch Program, the School Breakfast Program, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the Summer Food Service Program, and the Child and Adult Care Food Program.

You’d think that all those agencies would be sufficient to influence healthy eating habits without individual states having to add more laws about what people can or cannot eat.

 
 
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