“Heart And Stroke Foundation Warns Fat Is The New Tobacco,” reads a press release from the Canadian health group. Across the pond, doctors’ organizations in Britain issued a press release today headlined: “Reducing And Preventing Obesity — Everything Must Change.” Dozens of media outlets in both countries regurgitated this fat hysteria. Predictably, along with the sky-is-falling rhetoric, both the British and Canadian groups want to regulate what people eat. They call for the reformulation of popular foods, marketing restrictions, and subsidized salads. In Canada, they also want calorie counts, fat grams, and other nutritional information plastered on menus, and an end to the common practice of discounting generous portions.
To their credit, neither the British nor the Canadian reports limit their recommendations to onerous food restrictions. The Canadians note that only 43 percent of their population is physically active, and both groups call for increased levels of exercise. However, as we’ve come to expect, those old ideas of personal responsibility and personal choice play no role in their recommendations.
The Canadian and British groups have entirely adopted the corrosive philosophy of Kelly Brownell, the father of the “fat tax.” They all deemphasize personal responsibility, and blame the “food environment” for obesity. The British report goes so far as to condemn what they call “victim-blaming.” One is tempted to ask: Victim of what? Of an ever-expanding menu of inexpensive and tasty food? As Dr. Gerard J. Musante, a Duke University psychiatrist and founder of a weight-loss clinic, pointed out at a Congressional hearing last fall:
Through working with obese patients, I have learned that the worst thing one can do is to blame an outside force to get themselves “off the hook,” to say it’s not their fault, and that they are a victim. To do this can bring about feelings of helplessness and then resignation. Directing blame or causality outside of oneself allows the individual not to accept responsibility and perhaps even to feel helpless and hopeless.
With personal responsibility out the window and obesity hysteria setting in, it might not be long now before Canadians and Brits start down the path — first blazed by America — of fat taxes and obesity lawsuits.