Question: What do you get when you combine a $500 million grant, nutrition zealots, and carte blanche to editorialize in a medical journal? Answer: 163 pages of food cop propaganda.
The neo-prohibitionist Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) is once again applying its anti-alcohol model to burgers, fries, and apple pie — even proclaiming that our love-handles are “forcing what may be a cultural revolution” in which “ideas to cut obesity that once sounded extreme are gaining public attention and moving into mainstream thinking.” Earlier this year, RWJF announced a $500 million grant to fight childhood obesity. Accounting for all that money may now be a simple matter of flipping through the pages of the October supplement to the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.
Research and editorials in the issue feature the usual suspects like Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and New York’s Thomas Frieden, and well-worn restaurant-zoning, Twinkie-tax, and food-ban proposals . The writers are quick to dismiss the “burden on individuals to change their diet and exercise practices” as a possible solution to those extra belt notches. Their proposed tactics — as one editorial put it — provide “the impetus, direction and mandates needed by government, the public health field, advocates and others at the community level” to make our personal choices Big Brother’s business.
Other researchers, journalists, and lawmakers make policy suggestions in a similar vein: tobacco-like attacks on “junk” food, federal restrictions on food advertising, and mandates imposed by almost 3,000 local and state health departments. Amid proposals to change city planning, business models, and other daunting tasks, Harkin singles out the biggest hurdle to these Orwellian measures:
We couldn’t agree more.