In recognition of the month when America celebrates its freedom, we are devoting the first two weeks of July to a review of the ongoing battle for consumer freedom — the threats and the promise. Today, a review of recent developments in the “War on Fat.” (We will be taking tomorrow and Friday off to fire up our backyard grills, pop open a beverage, and celebrate Independence Day.)
Easily the most active front in the war on consumer freedom is the campaign to regulate and restrict food options in a so-called “War on Fat.” Here’s just a sampling of the latest:
The New York Times called the obesity battle “a culture war for the new century.” On one side, “lawyers who pioneered suits against tobacco companies.” On the other, advocates of consumer freedom. “The lawyers filing these suits hope to do to Mega Gulps and Twinkies what they did to Joe Camel and tobacco,” writes the Times — demonizing a product, taxing it out of reach of consumers, and restricting the places where it can be bought and consumed.
Other leading media slammed food as the culprit, a sign of activists’ increasing success in selling a one-sided anti-consumer argument to the press. We’re a nation of “Junk-Food Junkies,” says The New York Post. A “Twinkie tax” must force us “to pay for our poor eating habits” because “obesity is spreading across America like a cancer,” says The San Antonio Express-News. “All Ages Addicted to ‘Junk’ Food,” screams a UPI headline.
Activist/author Marion Nestle declares that “sellers of food products do not attract the same kind of attention as purveyors of drugs or tobacco. They should.” Kelly Brownell opines that “Congress and state legislatures could shift the focus to the environment by taxing foods with little nutritional value… The least healthy would be given the highest tax rate… Consumption of high-fat food would drop.” Both are linked to the grand-nanny of them all, the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Anti-tobacco attorney John Banzhaf now plans “an onslaught on the junk-food industry as a whole” as part of his crusade to equate food with tobacco. The George Washington University professor heads up an organization that promises “hundreds of billions [YES, BILLIONS!] of dollars” from anti-tobacco lawsuits. Now, he says “tactics used against the tobacco industry very successfully… could be used against the problem of obesity.” He adds: “As we’ve done with regard to cigarettes, [we could] put a higher tax on foods.”
The Center for Science in the Public Interest unveiled a shocking report revealing that pizza contains cheese. Writes The Dubuque Telegraph Herald‘s Ken Brown: “I always thought pizza was a diet food. That notion was cleared up when the Center for Science in the Public Interest did a study… Good work guys.” Adds Holly Love of The Philadelphia Inquirer: “[CSPI] has just declared that all that cheese and meaty topping should have only a cameo appearance in a meal, not a starring role. The ‘good news’ is that they strongly endorse pizza with little or no cheese and lots of vegetables instead of sausage or pepperoni. Isn’t that called ‘salad’?”