Lab Rats on the Hudson

Millions of New Yorkers probably aren’t aware they’re being used as guinea pigs in their state health department’s ongoing (and expensive) social experiments. Don’t take our word for it: State Health Commissioner Nirav Shah recently confirmed this to the New York Daily News: “We use the City as our test bed to see if there are any unintended consequences [of experimental health policies] and then roll it out for the rest of the state.”

It’s nice to see New Yorkers' tax dollars are hard at work.

Commissioner Shah’s revelation came in a discussion about one New York City councilman’s proposal to ban toys in fast-food kids meals. Proponents of banning the toys (like those enacted last year in San Francisco and Santa Clara County, CA) remain convinced that cheap trinkets compel moms and dads to cave to their kids’ demands for fast food. (We give the parental "no" more credit than that.)

Using their fellow Americans as test subjects is nothing new to public health crusaders. When Big Apple Mayor Michael Bloomberg launched his anti-salt crusade in 2009, some in the scientific community criticized it as an ill-conceived “experiment” with little concern for its effects on ordinary New Yorkers. Dr. Michael Alderman, chair of department of epidemiology at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, told WebMD:

What we're involved in here is an experiment to see what's going to happen … We do not have evidence that reducing sodium is going to increase the quality or the duration of our lives.

Shooting first and asking questions later isn’t limited to NYC. Professional anti-obesity blowhards Kelly Brownell and David Ludwig are living proof of such backward thinking being practiced on unassuming citizens.

Brownell and Ludwig have long hyped the idea that nagging restaurant patrons about calorie counts would affect their meal choices. The dynamic duo knew there was no credible scientific evidence to support their agenda, but pushed forward anyway in the name of public health:

For some of the most important public health problems today, society does not have the luxury to await scientific certainty.

Now an NYU School of Medicine study funded in part by Brownell’s employer (Yale University) once again confirms listing calorie counts on menus is an ineffective weapon in the modern battle of the bulge. Isn’t this why we should wait for evidence? Avoiding wastes of time and money on worthless experiments conducted by agenda-driven health nuts is good for our health—and for the public purse.

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