Filed Under: Snacks

Behind The

The American Heart Association, the American Dietetic Association, and the Georgetown University Center for Food and Nutrition Policy have all made it clear that there are no “good foods” and no “bad foods” — everything is fine in moderation. In December, Marion Nestle agreed, saying, “I think people should use their common sense. Any food is reasonable; just don’t eat too much of it.” And just this past Monday, Margo Wootan said “you can eat whatever you want.”

But the actions of Nestle, author of the anti-food diatribe Food Politics, and Wootan, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), speak much louder than these words:

Nestle has worked with CSPI on recommendations for mandatory menu labeling of fat and calorie content, releasing a skewed report on obesity endorsing CSPI’s infamous “Twinkie tax.”
Nestle has called for “taxing soft drinks and other high-calorie junk foods.”
Nestle has said restaurants should give customers less for their money, blaming “the huge increase in portion sizes at restaurants” for obesity.
In Food Politics, Nestle writes: “Sellers of food products do not attract the same kind of attention as purveyors of drugs or tobacco. They should.” (For many more excerpts from this dangerous book, click here.)
Wootan has said “poor diet and a lack of activity kill as many people as tobacco but people don’t think about it as being as deadly as tobacco.”
Wootan has called on the government to “put in place policy and change the environment around people so that it is easier for them to eat well.”

Nestle and Wootan both appear in a Knight Ridder News Service column on the “obesity epidemic” that ran earlier this week. After hearing their propaganda, the author asks: “If the courts and government can outlaw
selling of cancer-causing cigarettes to kids, they ask, why not limit the hawking of obesity-inducing food as well? Is Joe Camel really so different from Ronald McDonald?”

But not everyone is fooled. Appearing on NPR this week to talk up a soda tax, Wootan said, “We have been encouraging people to drink fewer soft drinks… Soda makes the most sense to tax because it’s not a necessary part of people’s diets… With cigarette taxes that’s not the only approach that’s used, but it’s one very effective tool.” One listener let her have it, calling in to say: “I don’t feel that I need to be dictated to by the likes of her. And it irks me when they say, ‘Oh, they’re only going to raise it a penny or two.’ Why doesn’t she take that penny or two out of her pocket?”

Unfortunately, common sense isn’t universal, and in California, State Senator Deborah Ortiz has run with Wootan’s idea and introduced the “California Soda Tax Act,” a measure that would add two cents to the cost of each can of soda sold in the Golden State — stripping consumers of up to $300 million each year. Ortiz says her goal is to “discourage consumption of those high-caloric beverages,” which opponents call “tax policy as a social engineering tool,” The Los Angeles Times reports. Wonders one legislator opposed to the plan: “Where will this ever stop? Are they going to tax the butter on my carrots?”

Ortiz used a Harvard study by David Ludwig as the foundation for her claim that soft drinks cause obesity. But the Center for Disease Control said, “there are no data from the Harvard study” showing how much soda affects obesity — if at all. Ludwig himself said, “our study cannot prove causality.” But science isn’t the point when you are trying to change behavior.

Elizabeth M. Whelan, president of the American Council on Science and Health, writes in The Washington Times: Nestle “is apoplectic about the facts that: a) food companies advertise and promote their foods, particularly good tasting foods which do not meet all the criteria for nutritional correctness; and b) that they even turn to modern day food technology (the author strenuously objects to fat substitutes like Olestra) to allow us to consume desserts and snacks, which she considers to be junk, at reduced caloric levels. Indeed, if we were to take Marion Nestle’s arguments at their face value, we would be advocating that food companies be run not by business people, but by academic physicians and scientists who were committed to creating their own self-designed nutrition utopia — whether consumers wanted those foods or not.”

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