Some unsettling news from the White House this morning: President Obama has nominated Dr. Thomas Frieden to head the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Yes, that Thomas Frieden — the New York City Health Commissioner who has turned the city into a radical test kitchen for nutrition zealots everywhere. Ingredient bans, “sin” taxes, even recipe overhauls. Frieden’s stick-over-carrot, for-your-own-good approach to public health is no longer confined to the Big Apple. Get ready, because the “nanny state on steroids” is going national.
As we’re telling reporters, today’s nomination could be a horrible watershed for public health policy. If Frieden’s plans for the CDC bear any resemblance to his work as New York City “health czar,” your private health is now public health in the eyes of the U.S. government. It is a radical approach that Frieden and his allies at the Center for Science in the Public Interest have practically trademarked.
In other words, your business is now Frieden’s business.
As Frieden himself once explained, “when anyone dies at an early age from a preventable cause in New York City, it’s my fault.” This blanket rejection of personal responsibility is a disaster waiting to happen. As we’ve said before, one size does not fit all when it comes to a healthy diet. Not only does Frieden’s philosophy leave the definition of a “preventable cause” dangerously open, but his heavy-handed approach could have very serious public health consequences.
And how to enforce Frieden’s vision of “prevention” on every American? That’s another story, and we’ll be following it as it evolves.