At the Center for Consumer Freedom, we read activists’ bad ideas every day. We’ve already covered five of the worst proposals yesterday. We now present the conclusion of CCF’s Tasteless Ten Worst Proposals from a banner year in anti-food activism.
Declaring Food Addictive like Illicit Drugs: Yes, in the eyes of activists your desire to eat a chocolate or drink a milkshake is no different than an addict’s Jonesing for a hit of heroin. If it sounds like academic piffle, it isn’t: It’s an insidious plan to kill consumer choices. Many of the other items on this list are justified by this one, even though a Cambridge University team wrote that “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviours.”
Suing Food Companies for Selling Foods People Like: Since the early 2000s, anti-food activists have hoped to use tobacco litigation as a model for how to bring food makers to their knees, and the trial bar is rising once again to advance the dream of “unavoidable” healthy eating. A recent BBC story featured Don Barrett, a Mississippi trial lawyer who made considerable sums in tobacco suits who is already suing food companies. The story noted that “If [food addiction] science strengthens, then the parallels with the tobacco cases could strengthen too.”
Lowering the BMI Threshold for Obesity in Women to 24: The Body Mass Index doesn’t measure obesity and overweight particularly well, as we’ve noted before. (NFL stars Peyton Manning and Tom Brady, among others, fall afoul of it.) However, that didn’t stop two activists from arguing that the overweight and obesity thresholds should be lowered again to a level currently considered healthy in women. An official of the Pan American Health Organization warned, “We’d also be calling an increasing number of people obese who aren’t, which could lead to issues with stigma, insurance policies, and other problems.” Given that a wide-ranging systematic review in The Lancet found that among heart patients, the category with the lowest mortality under the present classification scheme was the “overweight” one, those “other problems” could be very serious indeed.
New York City’s Hop on Pop: In a worrying sign that yesterday’s terrible idea is tomorrow’s terrible policy, New York City adopted a ban on 16-ounces-and-greater containers of soda in restaurants. While some compared the ban’s driving force, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, to the Prohibitionists of the early 20th century, our graphics department thought him more like an in-home herder of children. While experts from Cornell University argued that the plan would backfire, the city went ahead with its harebrained scheme, and now other cities are considering copycat measures.
The Nutella Tax: Unable to take a hint from the failure of Denmark’s fat tax, the French Senate proposed a tax on palm oil, a key ingredient in the chocolaty hazelnut spread Nutella. Nutella has vowed to maintain its formula, and the tax will likely not affect obesity. Expect this one to go the way of the Danish tax.