We hear dire warnings daily. Health experts have cautioned against talking on cell phones, eating butter, drinking tap water, and even sitting too close to the office printer. From bad to good and then back again, there’s almost no aspect of our lives that hasn’t been dubbed “dangerous” (even though many are false alarms or negligible risks). The situation has become so excessive that a fable on the subject would have to be titled “The Boy Who Cried ‘Wolf,’ ‘Bear,’ and ‘Tyrannosaurus Rex.’” Here are a few recent examples of outrageous cries for attention.
Obesity, Again: Yesterday, a small cabal of legislators announced the “Federal Obesity Prevention Act of 2008,” calling for a taskforce to propose national interventions for our diets. Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), one of the bill’s authors, showed his flair for the dramatic when he justified government action due to the “increasing urgency of this dire situation.” Perhaps the Senator missed the latest research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, showing that childhood obesity rates haven’t increased since 1999. (Or perhaps “leveling off urgency” doesn’t sound quite as impressive.)
Meat Attack: This week the woefully misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) issued agenda-heavy “nutrition report cards” for schools across the country through a front group called The Cancer Project. Many districts flunked. Cafeterias’ failing grades were based not on a complex analysis of age-appropriate nutrients, but on the simple inclusion of meat. (“F” is for frankfurter, you know.) The Washington Post reminded readers that it’s standard PCRM practice to narrowly assess nutrition on “the number of vegetarian and vegan (excluding all animal products) menu items offered.” That’s an interesting method (and by “interesting” we mean “bad”) for evaluating kids’ food, considering that a vegan diet can be downright dangerous for children unless it’s undertaken with caution.
PETA Pockets (Cash): In today’s Seattle Post-Intelligencer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) wasted a lot of newsprint trying to convince the public that it deserves a piece of the $8,000,000,000 bequest “for the care and welfare of dogs” in the will of late hotel magnate Leona Helmsley. Luckily, we warned Post-Intelligencer readers last week that PETA doesn’t deserve a dime due to its poor track record in caring for Man’s Best Friend. The activist group raised $30 million last year, but found adoptive homes for less than one percent of the pets it took in for adoption. On the other hand, more than 90 percent of those dogs and cats were put to death by PETA employees, according to public records.