Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Do You Want Fries with That? Not if the Government has Anything to Say About It

There was an interesting AP article a few weeks ago about the obesity epidemic and whether or not restaurants should be held accountable and if the government should intervene to “encourage” (or “force”) them to have healthier menus and smaller portion sizes.

Check it out:
  • FDA: Restaurants on front lines in obesity fight


  • I had a great discussion with a coworker and with my boyfriend about this article. First of all, at the root of this idea of the government enforcing nutrition guidelines on restaurant, we have a good old fashioned argument about capitalism and government involvement in our personal lives. My boyfriend will go on a tirade about government intervention in people’s personal lives all day if you let him—he’s against it, FYI. But, there’s another sad fact that this article makes blatantly clear—people will not take responsibility for their own actions.

    Now, I love food. I mean, I really love food. I can talk about food, read about food, watch food TV, write about food and most importantly eat food all day long. And I don’t pretend to have dieting all figured out. I’m not perfect, I’m not skinny, but I’m certainly not blaming anyone else for the food I put in my mouth or trying to get the government to step in and take control for me.

    The argument is often made that restaurants need to provide people with the nutritional content of their food because people, when armed with all pertinent information, will make the right, or in this case, healthy, decision. I do appreciate when I can look at nutritional information and it does help me determine what to get, but that’s expensive and unrealistic for most small restaurants in the city. However, the majority of large chains do offer this information and it’s arguable that most people choose to ignore it.

    It’s really up to the individual to make healthy decisions about his or her lifestyle. If you can’t get your massive platter of food fix at McDonald’s or Olive Garden or where ever you eat, you’ll get it somewhere else if you really want it. So then what? Will the government send secret food agents to watch us as we prepare dinner in our kitchens? Will we be fined if we use too much butter or ingredients that aren’t organic or if we don’t have the proper serving of vegetables? Sounds crazy, but it’s a slippery slope my friends, a slippery slope.

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