Do You Favor Obesity Laws In the US?

ScaleEditor Scott Mowbray asked readers’ opinions of Bloomberg’s soda law, nationwide calorie postings, and other government moves to curb the obesity epidemic. And readers responded! Here are some excerpts. Please add your own comments.

No to the Mommy State
I am not in favor of Obesity Laws. Once the government starts legislating what we can or can’t eat, where will they stop? I am perfectly capable of thinking for myself; the government is NOT my mommy. If insurance companies want to give lower rates to those who are fit or keep their weight down, that would be great. Our government isn’t doing a particularly good job now. It doesn’t need anything else to regulate.
Elyse McLearen
North Carolina

Just Bring Back Home Ec
When it comes to laws regulating what size soda, etc. that should be allowed to be sold, the answer is no, I am not in favor of obesity laws. I don’t think our government should be regulating what size food or beverage we are allowed to buy. I think people should be allowed to purchase the size products they want to purchase; the government should not be limiting our right to choose.

But I do think our government should be passing laws related to informing and educating Americans on how to make educated nutrition, food purchasing and exercise decisions for personal and family wellness. I have been a high school Family and Consumer Science teacher, teaching nutrition and food preparation courses for 25 years, and I see a big difference in my students today, compared to when I started teaching. More and more teens (and adults) have no idea how to eat healthy, or are misinformed. (Except for my students!) Many don’t know what calories are, what the different nutrients do, what a saturated or unsaturated fat is, don’t know what a whole grain is or why they are beneficial, are unaware of the caloric content of foods and beverages and how excess calories cause weight gain, or how food choices affect the cause or prevention of major diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancer and heart disease. Today there is less and less food preparation going on at home as well – many individuals and families relying on convenience foods, restaurant meals and take out instead of nutritious home prepared meals.

The bottom line is we need to educate Americans on all of these factors. Can a law be passed making nutrition and food preparation courses mandatory in public education today? The Cooking Light article from the September 2012 issue, Bring Back Home Ec,  was wonderful and is a step in the right direction in getting the word out on the importance of this issue. Instead of public schools cutting out these valuable Family and Consumer Science courses that teach students about nutrition concepts, how to eat healthy, and teach basic food preparation skills, we need to bring back these valuable courses that teach students how to live a lifetime of wellness.
KarenShibla
Wall Twp., NJ

Educate, Don’t Legislate
I am all for eating healthy, and I totally agree with laws requiring the posting of calories. Some people have no idea how many calories are in certain foods, so I think that is very important but doesn’t force someone to eat a certain food. It is their choice. On the other hand, I totally disagree with Major Bloomberg’s law regarding large sodas. I do not drink sodas at all, but I do not feel that the government should be allowed to tell someone what they can or cannot eat or drink. You cannot pass a law to force people to be healthy. Educating people is the answer. Banning large drinks does not keep someone from buying two. It makes no sense to me. Education and giving people information about what they are eating so they can make an educated choice is the way to go. It’s the individual’s choice, not the government’s.
Cheryl Miller
Dallas, Texas

Tax Junk Food
I believe a junk food tax should be instituted to be utilized in the same way as a cigarette tax. The high cigarette tax should be used to pay for the healthcare of smokers as a junk food tax should be used to pay for the healthcare of the obese. There is fairness in this method, where only the users of the unhealthful habit will be taxed, and it will be later used for their care rather than preventing their rights to certain behaviors.
Dawn Klekner
Prescott, Arizona

Drawing the Line
I am absolutely against any laws that deal with the human body. Where does it stop? What I am in favor of is mandatory nutrition education starting in kindergarten and continuing all the way through high school.
Cindy Adams
Tracy, California

Rethink Soda
Thanks for the editorial on the posting of calories and Mayor Bloomberg’s failed attempt to help people understand that too much of sugary drinks is not healthy. I support the posting of calories on a federal level. I see no harm in making this information available to all people at all times. As humans we tend to come to our own understanding of an issue or enlightenment whenever the proverbial epiphany hits us and posting of calories will for some of us come sooner than later.

I’m 64 and, while not a real soda drinker, I do recall that as a child we only had “pop” on Friday and Saturday nights, and the limit was ONE 10 or 12 ounce bottle. When it was gone that was it. Of course, it was real pop made with real sugar, but make no mistake, the bottles were 10 or 12 ounces. Somehow my mother knew that too much pop was not healthy. Why do mothers/fathers today not understand this simple truth? If children are taught that pop is an occasional treat they can take this habit with them into adulthood.
Marylou Zimmerman
Chicago, Illinois

Portion Police, Please
Yes, I am in favor of obesity laws. If people are used to receiving enormous portions, that is what they will expect.

A short story: Last summer I took our two grandsons to a local movie. Their mom gave the instructions: “They each can have a small soda, no caffeine, and a small popcorn.” The sales person put the completed order on the counter. I said, “Excuse me, we wanted small of everything.” She gave me the look and said that everything was “small.” “OK”, and I charged it. My sales slip said that the sodas were each 36 oz. Who knows what “large” would be. 36 oz’s is a quart. Does a little kid need to drink a quart of anything?
Suzanne S. Espenshade
Langhorne, Pennsylvania

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