By James Wallace Harris, Monday, April 27, 2015
I saw Fed Up last night on Netflix streaming, a documentary about how the food industry is acting like the tobacco industry when it comes down to choosing between the bottom line and the health of Americans. The documentary makes the case the Coca Cola Company sells only products that will make us fat, and it’s only value to society is the wealth it generates. To be fair, the film targets other food industries, but soft drinks are portrayed as one of society’s main causes of obesity.
What struck me was how food corporations defend dangerous foods in the same way the tobacco industry defended cigarettes. What’s more, conservatives attack any effort by politicians to keep children from becoming addicted to junk food by referring to such laws as promoting the Nanny State. If you Google Nanny State you’ll find some very interesting political sites and news stories.
Are conservatives right? Should we have the freedom to eat whatever we want? You’d think, by the same logic, they’d be against laws that controlled recreational drugs. And if the FDA keeps our food safe and our medicine effective, is that coddling of the Nanny State?
Should the government regulate products that make us unhealthy? Or should we all be responsible for ourselves? We’ve known that junk food is bad for decades. We know that drugs and alcohol ruins lives. We know what’s bad for us, but how many people do anything about it? Fed Up shows that children have little choice in choosing good food at school, and become addicted to bad food. That’s exactly why we don’t want drug dealers selling to kids. Should kids need an ID proving they are 21 to buy a Coke and Mars bar? Or if the Nanny State theory is correct, should we let kids buy joints and beer in their cafeteria because to not let them takes away their freedom?
The epidemic of obesity has occurred in my lifetime, and I’m obese myself. I’ve been a junk food addict my whole life. This documentary makes a great case that the current obesity crisis is not due to lack of exercise or the ability to diet, but we’re conditioned to eat bad food. I now struggle every day to eat good food. I have to ask myself: Would I have preferred that bad food had been made illegal in the 1950s and 1960s when I was growing up and we lived in a Nanny State, or do I prefer the freedom of choice I’ve had for the past fifty years?
I’m suffering from the results of a lifetime of poor eating, I do wish I had lived in a Nanny State. I have an addictive personality. In the film, they showed an experiment with rats addicted to cocaine were offered cocaine or sugar water. Nearly all of them switched to the sugar water.
Is it really a Nanny State to keep children from becoming addicted to foods, especially when they are offered no healthy alternatives? We know these food makes us fat. We know even as little kids that fat is socially and sexually unattractive. Yet, kids and adults will keep eating the food that makes them fat, just like rats in a cage. And that experiment has a ring of truth to it. Most people prefer junk food to drugs. Junk food makes us happy. Junk food fights boredom and loneliness.
Do we really have the freedom to choose? Do we really have freedom from the Nanny State when most of us spend our free time drinking Coke and eating Doritos and M&Ms, while playing video games and listening to the television? Is that what makes us free? Or does it really reflect that we’re rats in a cage sucking on a bottle of sugar water?
Is it really a Nanny State to make school cafeterias serve healthy food? Or do we live in a Corporate State where kids are forced to eat what makes the most money? Is it freedom to be free of laws, or to make laws that help make us a better society? I don’t know. I don’t drink or smoke because my parents were alcoholics that smoked like crazy. Will the next generation be horrified at all us fat people and choose a different path? Can they make that decision if they aren’t protected from addictive food while growing up?