Politicized Health Might Take Choice out of American Diets

Last week, researchers released a study that showed an association between mortality and the consumption of red and processed meat based on two surveys of healthcare professionals. As our executive director writes at The Daily Caller today, that result is suspect and should not be a cause for too much health concern:

Consider, for example, that the data in this study comes from a questionnaire mailed out once every 2 years to a sample of people asking them about the kinds of foods they ate. I don’t know about you, but I have a hard enough time remembering what I ate last week, much less what I was eating last July.

Indeed, the results of the “latest study” conflict with other studies. An Oxford University study published last year, for instance, showed no association between any of the animal products examined and colon cancer. And a large Harvard study also found that red and processed meats were not associated with colon cancer. So for now, Americans can evaluate the combined weight of all the science for themselves (even if they have to see it filtered through hype-addicted media message machines).

Of course, government policy may soon take risk-benefit assessment out of the hands of individuals and put it into the hands of activists and bureaucrats. After all, the healthcare reform law empowers bureaucrats to make sweeping mandates, as seen in the recent brouhaha over birth control pills. We wonder where that logic might stop:

Imagine then that the government decides, after enough weak studies, that being a vegetarian or vegan is healthier than being a meat-eater. Can it force tofurkey and soy “chik’n” on every office cafeteria in the name of public health? Can it ban milk from school lunches?

Or imagine the opposite — if enough studies show that beef is found to improve health, will Hindu employers be forced to provide hamburgers?

For now, people can ignore the hysterical ravings that hot dogs cause “butt cancer” from the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (only ten percent of its members are medical doctors) or choose diets that fit their worldviews. But if government bureaucrats, having read a couple of dubious associational studies, get involved, we all might lose our freedom to choose what to eat.

Don’t think it can happen? Take a look at salt. After a perennial scare campaign from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, the Food and Drug Administration is considering regulations to wean Americans off the white mineral. Of course, all this effort comes after recent studies have shown no benefits from salt reduction.

The lesson from all this is that inviting the government into our health can create a plethora of unintended consequences. You can read the full article at The Daily Caller.

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