Obesity Activists Fight Foreign Fat War

130328_FoodPoliceBadge picLed by Belgian UN Bureaucrat and holder of the title “Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food” Olivier De Schutter, activists are beginning to reshuffle some efforts to reduce consumer choice from American democratic domestic politics to un-democratic international structures (like the UN). In a paper to be presented to Cornell University, notorious food scold Marion Nestle outlines how this might look from a policy perspective:

More recently, the WHO identified key global strategies related to obesity prevention, among them community-based and policy interventions to limit the consumption and marketing of unhealthy beverages to children. To implement these recommendations, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, observed that the most effective way to reduce consumption of high-sugar foods is through regulation: “Impose taxes on soft drinks (sodas).”

In other words, the “Right to Food” that Mr. De Schutter, Nestle, and Nestle’s co-author are trying to preserve is the right for governments to dictate their citizens’ diets. In the United States, that strategy is widely unpopular, with wide majorities shooting down soda taxes in even the most left-wing areas.

Part of the activists’ new tactic is to attack companies (like soft drink manufacturers) for selling their wares internationally and meddling with “traditional diets.” That’s interesting, because the “food movement” in the industrialized West does the exact same thing in reverse. Recall at the beginning of the year the left-leaning British newspaper The Guardian published a report that the quinoa grain, a staple in the South American country of Bolivia, had spiked in price because of Western foodie demand.

Indeed, the international trading system allows consumers to (generally) get what they want, whether that’s fizzy drinks or South American porridge. Meddlesome bureaucrats and ideologically motivated professors shouldn’t use the heavy hand of government to change that. Instead, the government and food companies should provide education and accurate information on how to live balanced, personally responsible lifestyles, as they already do.

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