The government is increasingly in your business. And the more it’s in your business, the more it feels comfortable there and thinks it should be further into your business.
Regulation of our lives is not a thing. It’s a process. Driven by entrenched bureaucracies and changing attitudes, it grows inexorably. We get used to the regulation. The regulators get used to giving to us. And so more regulation seems only natural.
First Lady Michelle Obama’s health advocacy is not just a moral crusade for thinner waists. You see, Michelle isn’t just some nice lady with a big heart. Michelle is the government. And her advocacy therefore constitutes government interference in our lives. What’s more, her advocacy has come with specific policy recommendations, and even, legislation.
Mrs. Obama has abetted the creation of an attitude that the government has the right, and even the obligation, to regulate what you eat.
That the government’s growing role in our diet has coincided with worsening health habits makes no difference to Michelle or any of the other health virtuecrats.
The low-fat diet demanded by our health professionals has turned out to be disastrous for the physical well being of Americans. Our grandparents were in better shape than we are, despite their supposedly atrocious eating habits, which the government felt it needed to correct.
In fact, Michelle continues to advocate low-fat eating despite growing evidence that fat – even saturated fat – does not play a role in disease and may even prevent obesity by promoting satiety. Did you know that people who drink whole milk tend to be leaner? Did you know?
With Mrs. Obama leading the way, the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee released a nearly 600-page report Thursday with recommendations that include a variety of coercive methods designed to get you to eat “better.”
Of course, “public places” will get the heavy handed treatment as a matter of routine:
- Establish local, state, and Federal policies to make healthy foods accessible and affordable and to limit access to high-calorie, nutrient-poor foods and sugar-sweetened beverages in public buildings and facilities. Set nutrition standards for foods and beverages offered in public places.
The DGAC has some requirements for health insurers, who have been turned into utilities by President Obama:
- Require health insurance providers to use financial and other positive incentives to encourage and motivate health care settings and businesses to support individuals in adopting healthy behaviors and engaging, as appropriate, in nutrition and exercise counseling and comprehensive lifestyle behavior interventions.
But the committee cannot achieve its goals by poking around the public sector. It must, and does, outline a series of draconian steps that get the government deep into what you will be permitted to eat. I’ve highlighted some of the scarier phrases that portend maximum intervention in the private sector, just to ruin your weekend.
- Incentivize businesses to establish employee health benefits plans that include access to resources and services that encourage personal health promotion and healthy lifestyle behavior changes. Support employers in using positive motivation strategies to realize these changes.
Remember, “incentivize” means tax breaks for some, and by extension, higher taxes for others.
- Improve retail food environments and make healthy foods accessible and affordable in underserved neighborhoods and communities.
- Align nutritional and agricultural policies with Dietary Guidelines recommendations and make broad policy changes to transform the food system so as to promote population health, including the use of economic and taxing policies to encourage the production and consumption of healthy foods and to reduce unhealthy foods. For example, earmark tax revenues from sugar-sweetened beverages, snack foods and desserts high in calories, added sugars, or sodium, and other less healthy foods for nutrition education initiatives and obesity prevention programs.
- Making “smart snacks” consistent with the Dietary Guidelines in schools, child care settings, parks, recreation centers, sports leagues, after-school programs, worksites, colleges and universities, healthcare, and other community settings.
Of course, we must regulate commerce. It started with cigarettes, but that was only the beginning.
- Implementing policies that limit exposure and marketing of foods and beverages high in added sugars and sodium to all age groups, particularly children and adolescents.
- Implementing economic and pricing approaches to promote the purchase of healthy foods and beverages. For example, taxation on higher sugar-and sodium-containing foods may encourage consumers to reduce consumption and revenues generated could support health promotion efforts. Alternatively, price incentives on vegetables and fruits could be used to promote consumption and public health benefits.
With efforts like Michelle’s wedging open the door, the people who wrote this report, many of them academics, assume the right to interfere extensively in the private sector, and private lives. After all, it’s for your own good.
Because mother doesn’t know best anymore. The chairman of the Harvard Department of Health knows best. And he will make sure mother gives you what you he has determined is right for you.