America is finding itself amidst a new battle – a raging one between activist organizations and the US food industry over regulation.
Consumers International and the World Obesity Federation are demanding government restrictions on the food industry similar to the tobacco industry.
Some of the suggestions include reducing the amounts of salt, saturated fat, and sugar in food, educating the public about healthy eating, advertising restrictions, introduction of taxes and more licensing controls.
As the arguments in favor of food regulation are piling up, people are increasingly comparing the ill-effects of fast food to the harms caused by smoking.
Luke Upchurch at Consumers International said, "We want to avoid a situation like the 1960s, where the tobacco industry were saying there is nothing wrong with cigarettes, they are good for our health, and 30 or 40 years later millions have died.” Some people are also going as far as suggesting that, similar to packs of cigarettes, food packaging should include pictures of damages caused by obesity.
While it is entirely understandable that fast food is not the healthiest option around, some of the arguments made by food regulation activists are ludicrous.
Healthy eating in the US is far from cheap. Under these circumstances, the low-income individuals are left with no other option than to opt for fast food, which is readily available and cheaper by comparison. Imposing taxes on low-priced food will prove to be counterproductive as it will further propel the already-soaring prices of food and drinks.
Secondly, unhealthy food is in no way comparable to smoking. Including pictures of ill-effects of obesity on food packaging is akin to treating the symptoms but not preventing the cause.
It’s not up to the governments to dictate what people may eat or not. It is a matter of conscious human choice.