Houston, watch out for the calorie czar. The city’s mayor has appointed former Mr. Universe Lee Labrada to be the government-backed fitness guru charged with slimming down Houston. On CNN’s Crossfire last night, asked if we should “make eating junk food and other fattening foods just illegal,” Czar Labrada responded: “Hey, if you ever do that, sign me up, because I’m on board.”
Why? Because of the problem of obesity. Defined as “epidemic” by the government, anyone with a body mass index of 25 or above (including Cal Ripken Jr., Michael Jordan, and many other leading athletes) is “overweight.” Those topping BMI of 30 and up are “obese.” As for fitness czar Labrada, his BMI is… 30 — and has been as high as 33.
Health concerns are no laughing matter, of course, and there are millions of Americans who want to slim down. But the use of arbitrary ranking systems and the introduction of czars who support outlawing certain foods only results in more regulation and more restriction. Anti-obesity activists have called for snack food bans, marketing restrictions, prohibitively high “sin taxes” on snacks, and even zoning restrictions on where foods can be sold.
It all comes down to the belief that “Americans are ‘too stupid’ to make their own food choices,” as The Wall Street Journal reported this morning. The Journal notes that the Center for Consumer Freedom placed a full-page ad in U.S. News and World Report recently to refute that message. Says CCF: “We’re seeking to make sure that people have the other side of the issues than those presented by activist groups.”