With the announcement this week of First Lady Michelle Obama’s anti-childhood obesity initiative, there are some noble intentions. But there’s also more to it, like the disturbing trend of the federal government and national politicians overreaching in pursuit of “preventive health” goals. President Obama said in September that a national tax on soda was an idea worth “exploring.” The national “recovery” package passed by Congress includes hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to decrease the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages in Colorado and New York. (In other words, the government is using taxpayer dollars to tell taxpayers not to buy soft drinks.) And this week, The New York Times reports that upcoming administration-backed legislation will seek to ban candy and sugary drinks in schools.
While it seems like CSPI has set up camp at the White House, not everything is lost. Today at the The Daily Caller, we explain the good, bad, and the ugly about the administration’s new obesity initiatives:
Banning candy and snacks on school grounds tends to create an atmosphere of “prohibition.” Kids understand forbidden fruit. There are U.S. schools today where black markets provide children with contraband yummies when they get tired of skim milk, carrots, and celery. Snack food “speak easies” have literally sprung up to serve brownies and chips. An Austin American-Statesman reporter toured the hallways of Austin High School following a snack food ban. The scene, he wrote, was “Willy-Wonka-meets-Casablanca.”…
To be fair, not everything in the first lady’s obesity campaign is stale and doomed to fail. She’s right to emphasize the need for kids to get physical activity (the other, less controversial half of the “obesity equation”). In its “Shape of the Nation Report,” the National Association for Sport and Physical Education finds that only eight percent of elementary schools and six percent of middle and high schools require daily phys-ed class. And the percentage of students participating daily dropped from 42 percent in 1991, to just 28 percent in 2003.