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Big fat lies may lead to less food freedom in U.S.
Gary Truitt
Brownfield
Recently, during National Agriculture Week, there was a lot of talk about our affordable and abundant food supply. Yet, if federal and state governments have their way, in the future all we will be able to do is talk about food because we will not be allowed to eat any of it.

According to CNN online, 400 obesity-related bills were introduced into state legislatures last year, more than double the number in 2003. A quarter of them were passed. In Washington, D.C., the word “obesity” appears in 56 bills introduced into the current session of Congress. While I do not know the exact content of most of these bills, it is a safe bet they were not permitting us to eat more Twinkies, but rather restricting us to eat less.

U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona has been quoted as saying that obesity is a greater threat than terrorism. I guess he fears a group of overweight people will go to the top of Sears Tower and cause it to collapse.

Looking for a problem to solve, politicians are swarming to the obesity issue like ants to a picnic lunch.

Obesity poster child Bill Clinton is waddling around the country urging more laws to save us from our own bad food choices. Iowa Senator Tom Harkin, a constant critic of the USDA, is calling on the USDA Secretary to regulate not just junk food, but all food. I can see it now … instead of the school breakfast and lunch programs, the USDA would administrate the National Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner program. Just think - you would never have to ask the question “What’s for dinner?” because the USDA would tell you.

This kind of gastronomic tyranny is already happening in our schools. Not only are soft drinks and snack foods being banned or severely regulated, but even school lunches are being monitored. Students’ food choices are being tracked electronically; and if a student skips the Brussels sprouts and takes an extra cookie, a note is sent to his parents and the dietary infraction is noted in his records. All of this is justified in the name of curbing childhood obesity.

Like most movements that restrict our freedoms, this fat fascism is generating a backlash. Study after study is showing that restricting access to food does nothing to solve the problem. A recent study by the Center for Consumer Freedom debunked the myth that banning soda from schools improves students’ health and weight. A review of data shows that kids today consume roughly the same number of calories as they did several decades ago. What has changed is their level of physical activity.

The report concluded that inactivity was the single biggest factor in childhood obesity. The school boards that are banning snacks are the same ones who a few years ago cut physical education programs and eliminated recess.

There are other factors besides a generation of young people who sit on their buns and play video games all day. Two working parents who have no time to prepare food and rely on fast food or takeouts is another factor. Another contributing factor to America’s growing waistline is the price of food.

As we all learned during Ag Week, our food is affordable; in fact it is about the cheapest form of entertainment around. This is demonstrated by the higher obesity rates among people of lower income levels. A trip to a professional sporting event can set you back $100. A six-pack and a pizza cost a lot less.

This attempt by the government to play nanny and regulate what we can and cannot eat has got to stop. One group has even written a “Declaration of Food Independence.” We should be responsible for what we eat, and thus we should eat responsibly. We should also eat freely without the heavy hand of government force-feeding us what they say is good for us.

3/29/2006