Punitive “fat taxes,” ridiculous warning labels on sweets, and draconian marketing restrictions are not the right way to fight flab. But this regulatory nightmare is clearly the agenda of a June “Summit on Obesity,” co-sponsored by TIME magazine and ABC News. This three-day event will see Williamsburg, Virginia — one of our nation’s most emblematic landmarks of revolutionary freedom — invaded by a cabal of activists intent on manipulating and restricting Americans’ food choices. ABC News president David Weston has preordained the regulation-rich policies that will be trotted out the Summit. “Obesity is not a matter of private choice,” he declared. “It’s a matter of public health.”
The Summit will honor nutrition zealots described in promotional brochures as “heroes: those who do, not just talk.” One such “hero” is Texas Department of Agriculture chief Susan Combs, who imposed a sweeping policy for food in schools that effectively treats brownies and sno-cones with the regulatory venom usually reserved for illegal drugs. “Stop. Step away from the junk food and listen carefully,” says Combs. Now, thanks to her, kids sent to school with gummy bears are prohibited from sharing them with friends.
And while you may not think banning bake sales and birthday cupcakes is the stuff of heroes, scheduled speakers and card-carrying food cops Marion Nestle, Kelly Brownell, and Margo Wootan are likely to have Ms. Combs fitted for a cape and tights.
The ringleader presiding over June’s gathering of activists is ABC anchorman Peter Jennings. This should raise concerns for anyone who saw the December 2003 ABC special “How to Get Fat Without Really Trying.” Jennings treated viewers to a parade of diet scolds (including Nestle and Wootan), all insisting Americans are the victims of an agricultural system that produces too much food, and that food today is generally too convenient, inexpensive, and tasty.
The Daddy Warbucks behind this circus of anti-food fanatics is the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF). The 8 billion dollar behemoth is using its enormous resources to bring about a “cultural revolution,” in which “ideas to cut obesity that once sounded extreme are gaining public attention and moving into mainstream thinking.” Noted anti-soda activist Harold Goldstein attributes to RWJF his success at “build[ing] a movement nationwide … so we can change this fast-food culture.”