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Brief Follow-Up

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I don’t have time to respond to all the comments in this thread, but a couple of quick points:

  • I have learned by now that it is hopeless to expect anyone in the “aesthetic issues are moral issues” camp to ever address this point, but nonetheless I note that the key question is whether weight has a substantial effect on health as an independent variable. What is not in any dispute is that 1)vigorous exercise at least 3-4 times a week and 2)a diet rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains have strongly beneficial health effects, whatever effect they have on what your body looks like. So what, exactly, is the added value of hectoring people about fat as a way of rationalizing one’s a priori aesthetic preferences? Particularly given the quite considerable costs of this moralizing, which are largely absent from addressing the far more important questions of exercise and diet?
  • This article is kind of the worst of both worlds. It characterizes a regulation addressing “the obesity crisis” (sic) as the government trying “to get between you and your cheeseburger.” The regulation in question: a requirement that restaurants provide calorie counts. Although more nutritional information would be better, this regulation is hardly “nanny statism” in the pejorative sense, but in fact reflects exactly the kind of regulations that governments should be passing. Creating informed consumers is perfectly reasonable, and given the incentive that restaurants have to shield information about the potentially bad health effects of their products from consumers it’s appropriate for a measure of regulation in this area. If the government stops people from buying something altogether, then we can talk about “nanny statism.”
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