by Michal Conger

There is more alarmism over obesity than ever — you only have to look as far as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign against soda. At the same time, the childhood obesity rate is actually declining.

The reason  is that the government doesn’t actually care about saving lives, but only about regulating them, said a panel on the “nanny state” and alarmism at the Conservative Political Action Conference today.

The administration and alarmists know if they scare can scare the public over health issues, people will be more willing to give up their freedoms and submit to regulations, said panelist Julie Gunlock, director of the Independent Women’s Forum’s Women for Food Freedom Project.

That’s the motive behind the administration’s push for healthier school lunches, led by first lady Michelle Obama, Gunlock said. That initiative has resulted in more children eating school lunches, which leads to more centralized control over what kids are eating every day.

“That’s exactly what the administration want,” she said.

The problem with that centralized control, Gunlock said, is that the restrictive food policies the administration favors restrict basic freedoms.

Bloomberg, defending his campaign against sugary drinks, said this week, “I have got to defend my children and yours.”

But in reality, said Gunlock, “it has nothing to do with saving lives.”

The same alarmism extends to environmental topics like the crusade against fracking and plastic water bottles, panelists said. And in some cases, the government’s assumption that it knows better can actually be dangerous.

One example of this is San Francisco’s plastic bag ban, said panelist Angela Logomasini. The city banned plastic bags because of their alleged environmental dangers, deciding for shoppers that reusable cloth shopping bags would be safer for them and for the earth.

Instead, the cloth bags spread diseases, and hospital admissions for food-borne illness rose 25 percent in the city.

Negative unintended consequences of nanny-state regulation are not uncommon, said Jeff Stier, a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.

“The nanny state isn’t even very good at protecting the environment or public health,” he said.

Stier described ineffective and expensive policies the administration has used to push is agenda, and how they have proved detrimental.

Schools are paying 30 to 50 percent more for organic fruits and vegetables in their healthy school lunches, for instance, even as the administration points to the cuts in funding school lunches will take because of sequestration.

“It’s irresponsible,” said Stier.

The real answer to childhood obesity is good parenting, Gunlock said — a comment that got a round of applause from the CPAC crowd.

Studies show three things lead to healthier children: earlier bed times, sitting down to dinner together and turning off the television.

“This is called parenting,” said Gunlock. “This doesn’t take a scientific study.”