World Health Organization Becoming Global Food Cop

The World Health Organization, whose mission involves tackling the scourges of AIDS and Malaria, now spends its valuable time and resources fretting that people like to eat steak and drink soda pop. Late last week, WHO released its “draft global strategy on diet, physical activity and health.” Following this development, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a Saturday feature titled: “WHO wants ‘Twinkie tax’ to discourage junk foods.”

When Kelly
first proposed the target=_blank>Twinkie tax,
only reliable food scolds like the target=_blank>Center for Science in
the Public Interest
(CSPI) thought it was a good idea. But now “sin” taxes on foods
and other radical ideas are target=_blank>widely endorsed by public health officials in America — and, it appears,
all over the world.

In May, and then href= target=_blank>again in
July, CSPI called on WHO to endorse Twinkie taxes and other restrictions on food
choices. CSPI also
consulted directly with WHO
as it developed its “global strategy.” And the
resulting recommendations are almost everything CSPI could have hoped for. Their
biggest victory comes in the form of WHO’s statement that governments should href= target=_blank> “use taxes to increase or
decrease consumption of food.”

Perhaps more telling than any one specific proposal: WHO comes down squarely on the
side of calorie-counting zealots who couldn’t care less about what people like to eat. The
new WHO document contends that “preventive strategies” should attack obesity
“throughout the population.” That, WHO argues, “will cumulatively yield the greatest
and most sustainable benefits for populations” and “will far exceed the limited impact of
interventions restricted to individuals at a high level of risk.”

“Preventative strategies,” by the way, is public-health code for government intervention
to prevent fat and skinny alike from eating foods that are high in fat, salt, and sugar. In
addition to Twinkie taxes, other examples include a target=_blank>minimum purchase age
for candy
and target=_blank>zoning restrictions on restaurants. Essentially, the global public-
health movement would like to make buying a bag of nacho chips as difficult and
expensive as possible.

So much for the simple proposition that expanded food choices are an overall good thing.
Anti-obesity restrictions that apply to everyone — not just the obese — are
gradually replacing the idea that individuals and families should be responsible for
governing their own diets.

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