Britain’s left-leaning daily The Guardian reports on a new “public health” study that shows that the Marxist diet might just be the next “in” idea. The Communist nation of Cuba apparently saw its population lose weight and have less incidence of heart disease during a near-famine that followed a drop-off in aid following the collapse of the Soviet Union. The country saw reduced food availability and fuel shortages that forced manual and animal transportation to replace already scarce motor vehicles.
To Walter Willett, soda prohibitionist, meat scaremonger, and potato basher extraordinaire of Harvard, and the “public health” community in general, this outcome (if—officially—not the means) is just dandy. Willett wrote that the effect of the intense material suffering of a population already living under the dictatorial Castro regime amounted to “powerful evidence that a reduction in overweight and obesity would have major population-wide benefits.”
While the authors claim to sympathize with the suffering Cubans, their concerns are merely of process, not outcome. If a Board of Health (like New York’s) were to create an “administrative Leviathan” (to quote New York Judge Milton Tingling) to accomplish the same end, Willett would presumably be hunky-dory. After all, Willett wrote that cutting obesity by taxes and regulations is “perhaps the major public health and societal challenge of the century.” Communists apparently have a way, but it would be inconvenient and an offense against human dignity — not that food scolds are immune to such things — to openly call for it.
We joke about public health officials secretly desiring a “North Korean food policy,” but we never thought we’d see them practically openly pine for one. The closest that the food cops had previously come to confessing their true desires was Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) president Michael Jacobson’s praise of the 16th century peasant’s “pound of bread, a spud, and a couple of carrots per day” as “basically a wonderfully healthy diet.” Feudal monarchies are no longer in vogue, but would the public health community approve of a Dear Leader?