Will new taxes on TVs and gasoline make people thin? These are just two of many bewildering proposals being put forth by the so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). It’s an attempt inject their anti-choice agenda into the upcoming U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrition Summit on May 30 and 31: “What is needed is substantial involvement and investment by government at all levels” (their emphasis).

CSPI views most Americans as incapable of making decisions about lifestyle choices. So they are seeking to greatly expand the federal government’s intervention into each individual’s decision-making process about food. And the upcoming Nutrition Summit provides CSPI with a yet another golden media opportunity to demand more government action in making choices for you.

In a lengthy pre-Summit manifesto appearing in Public Health Reports, CSPI imposes the blame for the so-called obesity epidemic squarely on restaurants, and as is often the case, they do so without a shred of evidence. “[M]assive efforts by food manufacturers and restaurant chains to encourage people to buy their brands must undoubtedly play a role. Promotions, pricing, packaging and availability all encourage Americans to eat more food, not less” (again, their emphasis).

CSPI recommends the Health Summit leadership at USDA and Health and Human Services (HHS) require chain restaurants to provide information, nutrition labeling and caloric content on menus, menu boards and wrappers.

CSPI’s vision of a new layer of bureaucratic regulation presumes adults don’t know the difference between a salad and a sundae. Imagine the huge pass-along costs to consumers if the government forced every chef to send each “daily special” to a lab for caloric-content analysis, just so they could tell diners what they already know.

CSPI is again calling for new government “twinkie taxes” on foods they have long detested, usually for being tasty, convenient or popular with the public. But in their new manifesto, CSPI adds new government taxes to their wish list:

  1. a 5% tax on new television sets and video equipment
  2. a $65 tax on each new motor vehicle or an extra penny tax per gallon of gasoline

The $1 billion or more windfall they expect from these broad new taxes would, according to CSPI, “detoxify the present environment” and initiate government-funded “mass media health promotion campaigns” against obesity, overeating, and inactivity.

CSPI is calling for new government bans on advertising “for candy, snacks, fast foods and soft drinks” on any television show “commonly watched” by children. Putting aside questionable “First Amendment” issues about censorship and determining what programs are “commonly watched” by any age group, why does CSPI feel the government should trump parents in making choices for their kids?

CSPI is also proposing far-reaching new government regulations in how schools feed students. They are calling on the Federal government to:

  1. eliminate the sale of soft drinks, candy bars and foods high in calories, fat and sugar in all school buildings

  2. make a plant-based diet the focus of dietary guidance in children’s nutritional education programs

Note: CSPI ignores the Berkeley (CA) School District’s failed experience that saw cafeteria food sales drop 30% to 50% after cafeterias were forced to limit students to a diet of organic, CSPI-style “health” food.

CSPI also is pushing for a government-sponsored “No TV Week” campaign.

The nannies at CSPI have a near-limitless vision of an expanded, government-controlled Nanny state. They write that “[c]ommunities, workplaces, schools, medical centers and other venues are subject to federal and other government regulations that could be modified to make the environment more conducive to healthful diet and activity patterns.”

In short, CSPI is demanding the government change everyone’s behavior (our emphasis).