The latest salvo in the Kelly Brownell-inspired international war to make food less “convenient, accessible, good-tasting … and cheap” has been fired by food cops across the pond. As we warned last year, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) binding treaty on international tobacco control has become the model for control-hungry bureaucrats who think eating a cheeseburger is equally risky business. In May, WHO adopted a “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health,” which endorsed fat taxes and marketing restrictions on food. More recently, the British Medical Journal (BMJ) published an editorial titled “Tobacco and obesity epidemics: not so different after all?” The authors pick up where WHO left off, calling for “internationally binding instruments or conventions like those achieved in tobacco control” — including fat taxes and marketing restrictions.
Reminiscent of the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s complaints about rising food availability in places like sub-Saharan Africa, the authors fret that “consumption of chicken has risen by more than 1000% in five decades” in the U.S. Of course, it wasn’t much more than five decades ago when President Hoover — a great crusader against worldwide hunger — promised “a chicken in every pot.” How that vision became a bad thing remains a mystery.
Then there’s the BMJ authors’ complaints about “a few massive vertically integrated corporations” that can “create and market multiple products.” For example, one company has “4,600 different chicken products.” Assuming consumers don’t eat all 4,600 products every day, it seems a bit silly to imply that increased options leads to increased obesity.
The authors also whine that supermarkets now account for 50-60 percent of retail food sales in Latin America. What’s wrong with supermarkets (which are selling more and more fresh fruits and veggies these days)? It seems that they’re often owned by “large multinationals” and “giant corporations.” Worst of all, “three out of every 10 pesos that Mexicans spend on food are now spent in Wal-Mart.” In other words: Latin America is brimming with stores that offer a variety of inexpensive food. We can only assume the stealth campaign against inexpensive and accessible food will continue until a lot of our pots have a lot fewer chickens.