With First Lady Michelle Obama's "Let's Move" campaign against childhood obesity, talk of punitive new "fat taxes," and former President Clinton's successful campaign to get public schools to remove sugary drinks from vending machines, one might easily get the impression that government has only recently discovered that too many Americans are over-weight.
But we've been here before. In fact, a big reason why we're here today is because government went on an anti-fat campaign back in the 1970s. Remember the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "diet pyramid"?
I was reminded of this fact recently while reading "The South Beach Diet." (Yes, I, too, am fighting the battle of the bulge and my doctor told me to read it and heed it. And I am.)
Anyway, I was reading along and chanced upon this passage about how the federal government arrived at the low-fat dietary guidelines issued by federal officials back in the day. Those federal guidelines assumed all dietary fats were evil:
"There was also a political component to the low-fat guidelines - a kind of 'nutritional correctness' not unlike political correctness of recent years. The role that a Senate committee chaired by George McGovern played in the writing of our national dietary guidelines was brilliantly documented by journalist Gary Taubes in the journal Science in March 2001.
"The McGovern committee was originally chartered to fight malnutrition, but in the 1970s it switched to a new goal - the prevention of over-nutrition. The campaign started with a preconceived notion: Fat was inherently bad, and our over-indulgence in it was the major cause of obesity and heart disease in the United States.
"The committee also tended to suspect that those who did not believe that fat was Public Enemy Number One were being unduly influenced by the beef, egg, or dairy industry. The bottom line is that low total fat, high carbohydrate became the orthodoxy, despite the lack of proof that such a diet would improve overall health."
And the winner is?
"How has America done since the low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet recommendations? We've gotten fatter and fatter. In addition, adult-onset diabetes, a sure sign of unhealth blood chemistry, has become widespread."
In other words, America's obesity today is a direct product of following what the government told us to do the last time the politicians and bureaucrats decided the rest of us are too stupid to figure it out on our own.
The politicians and bureaucrats aren't the only factor, of course. We tend to exercise too little, eat out too often at restaurants that compete to see who can load up the biggest portions, sit on our keysters playing computer games or working on laptops, etc. etc.
But there is no doubt the government played a major role in creating the problem Michelle Obama and many others in government are now working to solve. As with so many other ills our politicians and bureaucrats set out to cure, they appear to have achieved just about exactly the opposite of what they promised.
Hey, that ought to give us all a real confidence boost if Obamacare passes. Right?