As we noted back in January when the move was announced, Kelly “Big Brother” Brownell recently moved to head Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy. Maybe they knew he was coming — in a humorous irony, North Carolina recently enacted a law forbidding municipalities from enacting food choice restrictions like New York City’s enjoined soda ban, so it remains to be seen how much misery the portly professor will be able to inflict on his new neighbors.
But at his former institution, the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, life goes on with the naming of new Director Marlene Schwartz. Schwartz had been Brownell’s deputy at the Center since its 2006 founding, so don’t hold your breath for a change of course from the tax-and-ban policy program Brownell charted. In fact, it could get worse.
Brownell is no fan of personal responsibility, but Schwartz suggested in an interview with the Ottawa Citizen that believing people can control their eating habits is the cause of every problem tangentially related to obesity. She argued:
There have been times in history when there haven’t been these automatic negative attitudes about people based on their body size so I think it does reflect our current society’s pre-occupation with eating and weight … It could be that we live in a society where we believe individuals are responsible for their own behavior.
This has been part of Rudd Center ideology for some time — defeating “weight stigmas” is a reported “passion” of rotund Center benefactor, Napa Valley wine magnate, grocer to the one percent, and booze distributorship owner Leslie Rudd. And under Brownell’s and Schwartz’s leadership, the Rudd Center has conveniently determined that they are supposedly brought about by the radical belief that people decide what they put in their mouths. That view will surely endear Schwartz to the New Haven lecture circuit, the book publishing industry, and busybody billionaire politicians, but national polling suggests the people will continue to take a dim view of the Rudd Center’s prescriptions.