Even if you accept the proposition that America is so fat it’s literally bursting at the seams — a presumption that depends on some fuzzy government math — the question still remains: whom should we blame?
At yesterday’s meeting of the American Public Health Association, food nanny extraordinaire Marion Nestle took some cheap shots at food companies and restaurants. She charged that “food is too cheap in this country,” and that meals eaten at restaurants are, by definition, “higher in calories than foods consumed inside the home.”
Nestle told a standing-room-only crowd of over 1200 public health professionals that “the food industry and the government are in a conspiracy to get people to eat more.” She offered several “solutions,” including the idea of “adjusting tax policies” (read: Twinkie Taxes) in order to convince people to eat the “right” things.
Marion Nestle is not alone on this “fat tax” bandwagon. Yale researcher Kelly Brownell originally started it rolling, and continues to suggest that “the least healthy foods” should “be given the highest tax rate.”
The public health crowd, of course, needs powerful allies in government if they want to change the tax law. So far, so good. Take New York City, for example, where two city council members are trying to ban sweets and soda pop from schools.
Anti-capitalists North of the border are also convinced that food companies should be forced to wear a target on their collective backs. Adbusters magazine founder and socialist firebrand Kalle Lasn recently told Strategy magazine that “for many years, tobacco was the big pariah industry and it took a while to wrestle it down to the point where it’s on the defensive. I believe… food won’t be far behind.”
So if all the self-anointed “experts” are ready to tar and feather food companies and restaurants, what are ordinary people thinking? Brace yourself.
According to a scientific poll released on Tuesday by the opinion research firm PlanetFeedback, Americans “are far less willing to blame the food and restaurant industry than they are to blame a lack of education and self-responsibility for the country’s weight problem.” In fact, 84 percent of those surveyed placed the primary responsibility for Americans’ weight problem on “individuals who do not exercise enough.”
USA Today reported recently that 75 percent of Americans “don’t… get at least 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week.”
And it appears that even the food police themselves can fail in this regard. According to the Associated Press, Kelly Brownell (the father of the “Twinkie Tax” himself), “sports a good-sized paunch thanks, he says, to a book project that has kept him relatively sedentary.”