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article imageOp-Ed: War on Obesity or High Calorie Nanny State?

By Gar Swaffar     Jul 3, 2008 in Lifestyle
New York is enacting the newest stage of their Nanny State legislation as regards food along with what and how New Yorkers decide what to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The state of New York has decided all New Yorkers need more information about the caloric content of their dietary intake outside the home. You may eat nothing but deep fried cheese sticks with ranch dressing wrapped in crispy bacon at home, but when you go to a chain restaurant in New York beginning this month you will have the opportunity to choose your meal knowing how many calories that meal is packing.
First was the Great Society and the War on Poverty (WOP) which really updated and revamped Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal, the next great struggle was the War on Drugs (WOD). Now the opening salvos are being fired in New York over the War on Obesity. (WOO)
The Battle of the Bulging Belly has begun. The new law gives the Health Dept. the ability to issue Notices of Violation which will be tied to fines beginning July 18, 2008.
The depth of the nanny state mentality is shown by part of the language in the new regulation:
1. While some food service establishments (FSE) make calorie information available through websites, posters, wrappers, or tray liners, the new requirements will help enable customers to see this information at the point of purchase, where it can help them make more informed choices.
2. New Yorkers get a third or more of their calories away from home. The lack of readily available calorie information in FSE's makes it easy to consume too many calories without realizing it. Just 100 calories every day adds up to 10 pounds a year. Extra pounds can lead to obesity and diabetes, two major health problems on the rise in New York City as well as heart disease.
The full posting of the regulation is here
All of this s probably a good idea, on a personal level. I'm not disputing the blimpiness of Americans in general. That would be hard not to notice just walking down the street or walking through a mall.
But why in the name of Kirstie Allie and Rosie O'Donnell is it the job of a city government to regulate the eating habits of its citizens ? Or in the case of New York City, its denizens.
The science behind the push toward mandated menu calorie notification is sloppy at best and at its worst is very questionable as regards the efficacy.
Christopher Flavelle from Slate.com did a survey of customers of eateries in Times Square and found that most of the people, even those who read the available information regarding labeling, just didn't care what the calorie counts were. They, as most people might, bought the food they wanted because it was what they wanted to eat! Go figure.
The Nutrition Labeling and Education Act, (NLEA) was foisted off on the American public in 1994 by a CONgress with too much time on their hands and too little to do of any real importance apparently.
In the article in Slate is a study by two researchers which found:
nutrition labeling did reduce obesity but only among a single demographic: white, non-Hispanic women. For all other demographics—Hispanic and black women and men of every ethnic group—they found no significant impact after nutrition labeling became required.
which in my not so humble opinion was a given even before the study. White girls paranoid about putting on as little as 8oz. of weight which might make their thong bikini bulge in exactly the wrong place are going to be consumed by angst over all caloric intake. Trying to emulate the Olsen twins, who look like real life stick figures is never easy I suppose, but most especially if a person is actually eating real calories, as opposed to dining on cardboard, crack cocaine and vanity.
The state of Washington is going to take a whack at dietary laws too, not as strict as the ancient Hebrew laws, but with more relevance to today's youth I'm sure.
Julia Patterson is the chairwoman of the board of health in King County, Wash., where menu labeling will go into effect on Jan. 1. Asked whether King County had studied the link between menu labeling and obesity, Patterson rejected the very premise.
"When we made the decision to warn people about the fact that cigarettes can cause cancer on a pack of cigarettes," she said, "nobody demanded that a study be done to determine whether or not that information would have an impact on smoking habits of Americans."
Translation? The state of Washington doesn't care one iota if the new law changes the eating habits of a single person on the entire planet, not to mention anyone in the State of Washington. The concept is simply to plow more money into garbage legislation, allowing an annual growth pattern to a bloated bureaucracy equal to the growth rings on an Old Growth Redwood and making life more difficult for business'.
Meanwhile back in Gotham,
The restaurant industry isn't waiting for the numbers to come in. "They have absolutely no scientific backup for any of their claims," said Chuck Hunt, executive vice president of the New York State Restaurant Association
On the other hand neither do we have indisputable evidence that the planet we live on will be here when tomorrow rolls around, but we still make our plans as if it might at least have a good chance of being there when we fling ourselves out of bed in the morning looking for a place to plant our feet. I for one nearly always set my alarm clock as if it has a chance of being a useful task.
Nanny State, a War on Bulging Bellies, or War on Obesity
WOO
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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