Lately, there has been growing support for government intervention in the way that foods are processed and produced. Documentaries like FED Up and legislation like New York City’s soda ban highlight the sentiment against foods with high levels of fat and sugar. Advocates and legislators tout these kinds of initiatives as a means of combating childhood obesity and other significant health issues. However, this is a deleterious way to manage these problems. The federal government should not impose strict nutritional regulations on food producers.
Government regulations on what levels of sugar, fat and other elements can be in the foods is the epitome of the nanny state. The laws being written are more often aimed at coddling the American public. It seems that anything that may be seen as unfavorable is being legislated against. However, this sort of overprotective behavior is not what our federal government was created for.
The more that these laws are created and supported, the more that the government is encroaching on the people’s ability to govern their own lives. The idea of limiting what foods companies can produce is an encroachment on individual’s liberties. At the most fundamental level, individuals should be able to eat what they want. The government telling companies what foods they can and cannot make limits the choices individuals can make.
Additionally, this kind of legislation rests upon the assertion that individuals cannot make positive decisions for themselves. If unhealthy foods are to be made illegal, it begs the conclusion that individuals cannot limit their intake of these foods on their own. These kinds of laws imply that individuals cannot learn how to balance their lives on their own. While banning highly processed or fatty foods may seem like a harmless act on the surface, there are deeper implications. The way we get our nutrients is one of the most fundamental ways that we learn how to balance. If the public is not allowed to balance its life there, where else are they not trusted?
This kind of legislation aims at getting rid of “unhealthy” foods, but all foods, even those considered healthy, must be consumed in moderation. Fruits are high in sugars. Soy has been linked to health problems in women. When considering health and diet, balance and moderation is key. Thus, simply removing foods that are high in fat and sugar does not solve the puzzle. Instead, the government should focus on creating the accurate dietary guidelines and educating the public on the importance of balance. When the public is educated on what and how much they should be eating, they can make informed decisions for themselves.
Additionally, if the government is truly concerned with current obesity rates and other health concerns, there are other avenues to combat these issues. Instead of limiting what companies can produce, the government should focus on making healthy food more available. No one should have to eat processed foods because that is all they can afford. Making real, wholesome, nutritious food a financial reality is an important step in improving health in the United States. It is also a measure that does not result in fewer liberties for individuals.
The assertion that the government wants to make sure that its citizens are healthy is a noble one. However, the federal government should not limit what kinds of foods can be produced with regards to levels of fat and sugar. There will always be vices in life. American citizens have the right to balance these vices and live their lives the way they please. Moreover, if the goal of this kind of legislation is to combat obesity and disease, there are more suitable ways to accomplish this. This type of nanny-state legislation should be checked.