There’s an old saying describing people who are so focused on minor details that they are unable to comprehend the situation as a whole: “They can’t see the forest for the trees.” But that adage doesn’t even begin to describe the narrow-sightedness of some anti-obesity activists. Earlier this week, the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) called for a complete ban on Internet food marketing directed at youth. (The group also demands that food companies eliminate celebrities, cartoon characters, competitions, and free gifts from their campaigns.)
The Internet is home to disgusting YouTube videos, term-paper selling services, rampant pornography, “escort” service advertising, some of the coarsest vulgarity imaginable, etc. And most of it is readily available to kids. It’s worrying that out of all these highly inappropriate online traps, IOTF chairman Phillip James is claiming that websites featuring characters like Snap, Crackle, and Pop should be the priority in “protecting” our kids.
Using common sense, most of us can easily determine what’s healthy and what’s not. We know the difference between carrots and candy without some contrived government calculation. Rigid formulas endorsed by food cop fanatics fail to offer new insight into obvious dietary choices. And they also tend to sully the good reputation of “nebulous middle ground of foods like cheese, sunflower seeds, and guacamole, all of which may seem wholesome but are also high in fat and calories.” That explains why commercials for cheese have been banned by the UK’s Food Standards Agency. In fact, according to the FSA’s criteria for “junk” food, sugary cereals and cheeseburgers are considered “healthier” than cheese.
Other “junk” foods banned from advertising during children’s TV shows include low-fat cheddar, bran flakes, instant hot oat cereal, reduced calorie mayo, multi-grain hoop cereal, Greek yogurt, low-fat spreads, peanuts, cashew nuts, pistachio-nuts, peanut butter, raisins, currants, olive oil, and ketchup. Just to name a few.
All of which is further proof that food cops are so narrow-sighted, they can’t see the forest for the cheese.