Maybe soon: A license to eat?

Related articles

How do we regulate the consumption of dangerous foods? Mark Bittman asks in his latest column for The New York Times. The public enemy in question is sugar, and Bittman is of the party that would limit its consumption with the kind of age restrictions and taxation policies applied to tobacco and alcohol. It s a solution that was recently fueled by a commentary in Nature on the dangers of sugar, as well as calls by various government leaders to limit the sugar content of items that people are allowed to purchase with food stamps. Yet just imagine, for instance, the logistics of enforcing an age limit on the purchase of soda, or the fine-toothed combing-through of a grocery store inventory to determine which items in a shopper s grocery cart won t be covered by food stamps and you begin to understand the range of problems inherent in this supposed solution.

We regulate alcohol and tobacco, The Times prefaces Bittman s piece. Why not food? Why not, indeed! ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross replies. Because, apart from the strange parallel universe inhabited by Bittman and The Times, food is neither dangerous nor addictive. And, if he hasn t noticed, we all need food to survive. That s why not. Furthermore, trying to apply the same kind of regulations to food products that are applied to tobacco and alcohol is not only simplistic, but would be a regulatory nightmare.

It would seem that Bittman thinks that America has become North Korea, ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom chimes in. So, we re supposed to allow the federal government to dictate what we eat? James Madison and John Adams must be flopping around in their graves.

It s only to be expected, says ACSH s Dr. Ruth Kava. After all, we ve effectively banned trans fats and worked ourselves into frenzies about calories on menus, so it seems only fair to start regulating sugar, too. Wouldn t it be great if as much energy were devoted to figuring out how to motivate people to get more exercise and control their calorie intake? Then we might really see a decrease in obesity and associated diseases such as Type 2 diabetes.