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May 8 2012

CDC's Wasteful Weight of the Nation Conference

Gayle Trotter

This week, your tax dollars will pay for regulators and media types to decide how to make you healthier.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity — a mouthful of a name — is sponsoring the “Weight of the Nation” conference.

The conference aims at influencing elected and appointed public policy makers at the federal, state, and local level, with the chief goal of learning to “more effectively coordinate with media especially on defining and portraying ‘health’ as a normative component of one’s lifestyle.”

Do we really need to spend money for politicians and bureaucrats to confer with media so they can portray health as a good thing? Isn’t that obvious?

Presentations at the conference include:

  • “Applying lessons from tobacco control laws to the regulation of sugary drinks” — Look for a surgeon general’s warning, coming soon to a lemonade stand near you.

  • “The Neighborhood Food Watch: Community Based” — Will we turn in the Jones family for eating too much fried chicken?

  • “Be Our Voice: Mobilizing healthcare professionals to make sustainable policy and environmental change” — Just in case the citizens cannot speak for themselves.

This isn't just wasteful -- it's a misuse of government power that should concern everyone.  Experience shows that, when the government controls health care and the costs of providing it, the government gains a vested interest in controlling people's personal choices. After all, those choices will affect the government’s bottom line.  Government also isn't just focused on promoting good health when they make their recommendations, they are also influenced by other factors, including industry interests and those of regulators. 

Americans might also note that decades of government intervention have already failed to save the citizenry from the evils of excessive cheeseburgers or apple pie.  And more government regulation is likely to be ineffective, if not affirmatively harmful.

For example, the federal government’s Choose My Plate campaign drew from input from the farm and agricultural industries. Critics pointed out that politics had a distorting effect on the program.

The government’s plate graphic brought a chorus of criticism saying that “dairy,” shown as a cup next to the graphic, should have been “calcium” on the plate. After all, there are more options than milk for one’s calcium intake, and water is healthier anyway, critics said.

Instead, the government’s Choose My Plate graphic gives misleading advice to elderly individuals, children, and those with medical issues like lactose intolerance.

The plate “doesn’t have the details necessary to make healthy food choices,” according to Walter Willett, head of the Nutrition Department of Harvard’s School of Public Health.

Consider instead this modest proposal. Every new mother’s first job is feeding her infant. As the child continues to grow, the mother teaches the child what good nutrition involves.

The government cannot substitute for a loving mother, but big government cannot help but try. Only concerned citizens can stop the advance of the nanny state.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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