Readers of The Washington Post were greeted with a full-page announcement by the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation that the companies participating had achieved their goal of reducing the annual calorie supply by 1.5 trillion calories two years ahead of schedule. The companies made a deal with the First Lady and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to reduce total calories supplied, and while the results are still provisional they are encouraging.
To activists, however, they aren’t nearly enough. The Economist whined that the effect would reduce calories in the average American’s diet by 14 calories per day in demanding more Bloombergist food choice restrictions and soda taxes.
Interestingly, that means that this voluntary move by a dozen or so companies is more effective at calorie reduction than the soda tax which our self-appointed betters demand at every turn. Recent studies have shown calorie reductions from soda taxes of as few as three calories per day, leading a Yale and Emory research team to note that “evidence suggests caution in enacting sugar-sweetened beverage taxation legislation with a core purpose of obesity reduction.” As for Bloomberg-like restrictions on portions, a study from the University of California San Diego found that the bizarreness of the soda ban rule might have led to more consumption, not less.
Separately, Coca-Cola ran an advertisement in The New York Times noting that obesity is about more than fizzy drinks. In a classic example of the activists’ goalpost-moving that has accompanied the campaign since it began earlier this year, a New York activist (whose sentiments were passed along by notorious food scold Marion Nestle) responded with snark.
Companies are responding to consumer demand for healthier products, but activists will not be satisfied until they control our choices. Many have already demanded Prohibition be enacted on regular soft drinks. More are suggesting that we are simply rats in a maze doomed to be “food addicts.” (Researchers from Cambridge University recently dismissed that charge, noting that “criteria for substance dependence translate poorly to food-related behaviors.”) The fight for food freedom is never-ending, and appeasing the activists is never possible.