As a society, we have generally decided that there is public benefit to enacting laws that limit people’s exposure to products that are known to cause health problems. These laws apply even against our personal will and even if we are not hurting anyone but ourselves. We also consider public health cost associated with disease from known products when making the determinations on a societal level. This is nothing new. How many “drugs” fall into this category on a State and Federal level? How many foods and chemicals? Known carcinogens are also commonly banned from our food supply due to public health concern. We even do this with the pet food industry.
In certain cases like cigarettes and alcohol, we have societally decided that we should at very least, have laws preventing sale to minors and limits to the sale, distribution, and public use. Most people (maybe not Ron Paul) consider these types of laws good common sense for any civilized government.
But when it comes to junk food, high fructose corn syrup or sugar, society seems to lose its ability to critically think. If a municipality, school district, or government makes any attempt whatsoever to mitigate a public health epidemic exactly the way they do all of these other known human poisons you, get public outcry on a significant level. The interesting thing to me is that the outcry never has anything to do with arguing against the known harmful effect or societal cost of these junk foods. Most will fully admit that they cause obesity, are addictive, etc.
A recent 60 minutes piece even suggests a more far reaching public health epidemic related specifically to sugar including studies showing direct unarguable links to heart disease and cancer. It also points out scientifically how sugar addiction occurs in the brain exactly as it does with drugs such as Cocaine.
But in spite of all of the overwhelming evidence, why are so many people still fiercely willing to fight against any sort of ban including a ban on sale and service to minors?
But no, it is all about our freedom! The government does not have a right to tell me how to live my life or raise my kids the way I choose!
Where are all of the “freedom to live the way we want” people when our government is actually imprisoning citizens for exercising their freedom to do some drugs. Why are your addictions and “freedoms” more justifiable than someone else’s? Are junk food laws really that different than a bunch of other substances we already make illegal for the exact same reasons? We can’t even get consensus that selling a 64oz soda to a 5 year old should be illegal!
If you do a little critical thinking you will find that most all of the arguments against junk food and sugar sales to minors could just as easily be applied to cigarettes. Why don’t we also allow cigarette sales to minor’s if our freedom is so important? The verdict is out on sugar and junk food and it is hard to justify any argument for that is from an actual health standpoint. Junk food and the results of our societal addictions are having a devastating impact on the economy, public health, and quality of life for a huge number of people including an inexcusable number of children. The statistics are simply undeniable.
Thankfully, society has turned the corner on cigarette smoking. We have known about the harmful effects of smoking for years, but simply having the information was not enough to reduce smoking rates or get people to quit. Enacting laws that limit distribution to minors, marketing to children, adding truthful warning labels and taxing the heck out of cigarettes actually did help a hell of a lot of people kick the habit! This had nothing whatsoever to do with “freedom”. It was about addiction and the government doing it’s job.
Can you imagine the public health impact that could be achieved if soda and high fructose corn syrup were simply made unavailable to minors and children the way cigarettes and alcohol are? I simply see no critical thinking justification as to why this should not be the case.
Make no mistake about it, (I think that is now my official blog catch phrase!) the reason that such a large number of people cry freedom exclusively for sugar and junk food is simple – A very large (no pun intended) number of people are addicted to sugar and junk food!
Anyone that has ever dealt with a person that has addiction issues knows that they will do just about anything to justify the behavior, regardless of the logic. This is exactly why we have the irrational justification for junk food, societally, and on such a large scale. No one wants to admit Soda is an addictive killer because they are themselves addicted. Admitting that it is, but continuing to drink it, puts you in the exact same category societally as that guy smoking the Marlboro. Unconsciously fighting to keep junk food harmless in the view of society helps the addicted brain justify the behavior. And serving it to kids further justifies the perceived harmlessness, and also further perpetuates the addictive cycle.
Rather we enter a program or not, the sooner a majority of our country takes Step 1 of the well known 12 step program to battle addiction, the sooner we will be to passing necessary laws and ending this public health epidemic.
Step1: Admit you are powerless over
alcohol Sugar and Junk Food!