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Collateral Damage in the War on Obesity

April 28, 2010

Why don’t they just outlaw happiness right away?

Convinced that Happy Meals and other food promotions aimed at children could make kids fat as well as happy, county officials in Silicon Valley are poised to outlaw the little toys that often come with high-calorie offerings.

The proposed ban is the latest in a growing string of efforts to change the types of foods aimed at youngsters and the way they are cooked and sold. Across the nation, cities, states and school boards have taken aim at excessive sugar, salt and certain types of fats.

Never mind the paternalistic, contemptuous, meddling, liberty-cutting, selective-science logic so typical for liberals behind the fast food scapegoating, salt scapegoating and sugary-drinks scapegoating strategy in the “war on obesity”, aka WOO. Who needs Happy Meals when you can have government-regulated, saltless Bureaucratic Misanthropy Meals? Although, it could backfire (Hat tip to Hotair):

Laughter has long been thought of as the “best medicine” but recent research has shown that it really can have health benefits.

Previous research by US scientists led by Californian physician Dr Lee Berk has demonstrated how laughter improves mood, reduces stress and activates immune system cells, especially those which combat cancer.

Laughter has also been shown to benefit blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

The latest study from Dr Berk’s team suggests that some of the effects of laughter mirror those of repetitive exercise.

The above linked article, by the way, mentions “malnourished patients who are off their food”. Granted, this is a problem that typically concerns elderly patients and they’re probably not helped with toys in happy meals. But the French Cowboy would like to point out that while obesity may be more common, there are people who have just the contrary problem, ie they find it hard getting enough calories into their system. For instance, if you work out a lot, or if you’re a teenager growing an inch a day, you have to eat like a tyrannosaurus just to keep up you energy level. Good luck trying to satisfy that need for food with celery and rice crackers.

There’s a second fundamental problem with the scapegoat approach taken in the WOO, which is the obsession with calories. The calory content of a meal alone doesn’t tell you anything about whether it’s a healthy meal or not. You also need to know what else the food delivers (fiber, micronutrients, vitamins, etc). And each of the components is either a good thing or a bad thing depending on your individual body, not a general statistic that says that most people have too much of this or too little of that. You’re not “most people”, you’re an individual. And whether a bag of chips is good for you or not is better for you to decide than for a bureaucrat who doesn’t even know that you exist.

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