Nanny State Won't Fix Child Obesity

Last Updated Jul 6, 2011 2:22 PM EDT

Nanny State Wont Fix Child ObesityJust as it did with big tobacco, federal regulators are taking aim at the food industry. This time, they're targeting America's childhood obesity epidemic.

The Federal Trade Commission has issued broad, sweeping guidelines on how food companies can advertise and sell just about anything children might eat or drink.

So what's wrong with that? Just about everything.

For one thing, it won't do any good. It boggles my mind how anyone with the ability to reason would conclude that our child obesity problem is about Ronald McDonald and sugary foods and not about health and lifestyle choices that parents make. That's right, I said parents, not kids.

On top of that, it's just the sort of regulatory overreach and political overreaction that inevitably causes more problems than it solves. Remember Sarbanes-Oxley? I mean, it's one thing when a bunch of morons in San Francisco ban Happy Meals, but this has far-reaching consequences.

Don't get me wrong. I'm all for making our food and drugs safe. After all, that is a function of the federal government. And if dictating how to make and market food products would actually solve the obesity problem, it would at least be worth looking at. But it won't. Here's why:

Why Food Regulation Won't Cure the Child Obesity Epidemic

  • The foods being targeted - fast food, junk food, soft drinks, snacks, cereal - aren't new. They've been around for generations. Why didn't they make kids obese before?
  • Why are some children obese while others aren't? Why do you think that is? Don't their families all live in the same country, watch the same TV ads? Yes, but they don't respond the same, eat the same foods, make the same choices. Why is that? Somebody makes those decisions, and it isn't the kids.
  • Kids don't go out and drive themselves to McDonald's or the supermarket to buy crappy processed food full of sugar and fat. Their parents do that.
  • Kids don't buy video games for themselves and regulate how much time they spend indoors in front of a tube of some sort. Their parents do that.
  • Kids don't stop kids from being kids anymore and, instead, let TV, video games, Facebook, YouTube, and fast-food fixes be nannies to pacify them. Their parents do that.
And yet, we hear these endless debates about regulating food products and marketing, giving kids healthy choices, and all that. What a load of illogical, nonsensical crap. The children aren't the problem and neither are the food companies. Parents are the problem.

Kids don't have an obesity problem; their parents do. But it goes much further than that. It's not just about what they feed themselves and their kids. It's about sitting on their fat butts watching reality TV, living on Facebook, and playing video games. It's about all the same sedentary things making their kids obese.

But it doesn't stop there, either. It's also about how they self-medicate. We used to identify drug abuse with kids; now the biggest drug problem in America is prescription drugs. Yup, parents have a problem, all right. It's called lack of personal responsibility and accountability.

It says a lot about our society that so many Americans simply won't take responsibility for their actions, their choices, and being adults who, for whatever reason, choose the path of least resistance instead of taking care of their own and their children's health.

They don't want to work hard and do the heavy lifting. They want everything done for them. They want to be provided for and taken care of. What does that sound like to you? That's right, they sound just like children. These so-called adults want a nanny state.

And that, ironically, is the cause of the child obesity problem.

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Image: Ed Yourdon via Flickr