Nanny State

Surprise! Federal Nutrition Programs Don't Work


Kids still eat what they want, even when the government tries really, really hard to tell them not to:

The federal government will spend more than $1 billion this year on nutrition education—fresh carrot and celery snacks, videos of dancing fruit, hundreds of hours of lively lessons about how great you will feel if you eat well.

But an Associated Press review of scientific studies examining 57 such programs found mostly failure. Just four showed any real success in changing the way kids eat—or any promise as weapons against the growing epidemic of childhood obesity.

"Any person looking at the published literature about these programs would have to conclude that they are generally not working," said Dr. Tom Baranowski, a pediatrics professor at Houston's Baylor College of Medicine who studies behavioral nutrition.

Also, a lesson in unintended consequences is hidden in this passage:

Meanwhile, it's harder for children to exercise on their own. Parks often aren't safe, and sports teams cost money.

"Calorie burning has become the province of the wealthy," Zeitler said. "I fear that what we're going to see is a divergence of healthy people and unhealthy people. Basically, like everything else, it costs money to be healthy."

For a long time many schools funded non-varsity and intramural sports with revenue from vending machines. Now that many schools have been pressured by anti-obesity activists into eliminating the machines, money for extracurricular activities has dried up. Meaning kids not involved in varsity sports now have less to do, making them less active, making them more likely to put on weight.