Washington Post: Food Nannyism Fails


Nothing wrong with carbohydrates that a little fat can't fix

The Washington Post has a nice article looking at how effective mandatory calorie labeling at restaurants is at getting customer to eat less. Short answer: Not very. As the Post reports:

Evidence is mounting that calorie labels — promoted by some nutritionists and the restaurant industry to help stem the obesity crisis — do not steer most people to lower-calorie foods. Eating habits rarely change, according to several studies. Perversely, some diners see the labels yet consume more calories than usual. People who use the labels often don't need to. (Meaning: They are thin.)

Below are selected quotations from various experts cited in the article:

"There is a great concern among many of the people who study calorie labeling that the policy has moved way beyond the science and that it would be beneficial to slow down," said George Loewenstein, a behavioral economist at Carnegie Mellon University who studies calorie labeling. In a recent editorial in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, he asked: "Given the lack of evidence that calorie posting reduces calorie intake, why is the enthusiasm for the policy so pervasive?" …

"Consumers really should be using this information because it can be helpful to them," said Lisa Harnack, a nutritionist at the University of Minnesota. After completing a study that showed most eaters did not operate as rationally as she expected, Harnack was heartsick. "I was optimistic we would find that people would make different choices based on having more information." …

Research in a fast-food restaurant in King County, Wash., where calorie labeling is also law, found similar results. The stated finding was grim: "Mandatory menu labeling did not promote healthier food-purchasing behavior."

But nannies never give up—if one mandate fails, there are always others to try: 

Another recent study shows what really worked was imposing a higher price — by way of a tax — on big-calorie items.

Don't know the study, but another recent study about the effects of a tax on sugary sodas suggests that it won't get fat people to drink them less. Why? Because most fat people already drink diet sodas.

If providing unheeded information doesn't work, perhaps scaring consumers will. In light the FDA's recent imposition of graphic labels on cigarettes, Reason contributor A. Barton Hinkle recently asked in his column on Nanny State Propaganda:

How long before the government places graphic warning labels on junk food?

Not long. Nannies always know best and they never give up.

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  1. “Nannies always know best and they never give up.”

    Hence just about everything that is wrong with this country.

    1. Europe does it too! and we want to be sophisticated cultural elites like all Europeans, right?

      1. Actually, my daughter was in Europe recently, and she said almost all the French men were thin, and almost all the German and Austrian men were fat. Huge differences in culture, apparently.

        1. I don’t know about Austria, but the French eat a high-fat diet. That will tend to make them thinner.

        2. it’s also largely genetic

          1. It’s interesting, my wife has some inlaws of French descent. They are thin but eat whatever they want. There also hyper like pure-breed dogs. Can’t sit still for a second. I’m guessing they burn that stuff off just with their fidgeting:)

            1. yeah
              you never or rarely see fat asians, especially Japanese. I was watching the Bourdain show and he was in some Japanese city where they have a WORD for going ALL NIGHT AND BINGE EATING AND DRINKING FROM RESTAURANT TO RESTAURANT, and STILL not ONE fat person could be seen in the city.

              1. Except for, y’know, Sumo, their national sport.

              2. “you never or rarely see fat asians, especially Japanese.”

                Oh, really???

                1. Because sumo wrestlers represent a statistically significant portion of the population, I’m sure.

                2. Sumo Wrestlers have to spend a lot of their day eating and being inactive to get big. The biggest Sumo guys are polynesians, who do have a strong tendency toward obesity.

    2. The Nation’s Mommy, in the White House, would agree wholeheartedly, JB.

  2. It makes me sad. that is all.

  3. Watch out you guys. If the social engineers don’t get their way they’re going to start taxing “unhealthy” foods. Don’t taunt them by telling them their methods so far have failed. They’ll just get worse!

    1. The only solution is re-education. It would be most effective in some sort of centralized, institutional setting where people could get plenty of exercise…

  4. When in line at McDonald’s, I want the most calories for the least money. I find the labels very helpful.

    1. I shop much the same way. I love that freezer meals show calories. I nearly always pick the highest calorie to dollar items.

  5. why is the enthusiasm for the policy so pervasive?

    Because unfunded mandates are easy to pass and make you feel good because you’re doing something.

  6. After completing a study that showed most eaters did not operate as rationally as she expected, Harnack was heartsick.

    I hope she put on her sweat pants and ate a whole half gallon of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.

    1. Of course the next logical step to dealing with the irrational consumer is to dictate their choices. It’s obvious.

      1. Nonsense, all we want is a little warning label on the side of each pack. That’s all.

    2. Of could this is HER definition of rational. She is trying to impose her values on others – just like many social conservatives try to.

      1. just like many social conservatives liberals try to.


        Not that you werent right also.

        BTW, this is why I hate the description of libertarians as social liberal/economic conservative. I am neither.

        I am socially libertarian and economically libertarian.

        And there is a big fucking difference.

        1. Right on, Kentucky brother.

    3. This always drives me a little crazy. One person has some notion as to what the rational choice would be and then they are stunned when someone makes a different decision. Can’t they get it through their heads that because different people value things differently, what is a rational choice for one person may not be a rational choice for another?

      1. 99% of people do not understand why someone else would make a different choice from them. Projection is part and parcel of human nature.

      2. Not only that, but to think calorie labels will lead to weight loss requires 3 huge leaps of faith, unsupported by the evidence.

        First, you have to assume that a significant number of people will actually read them.

        Second, you have to assume that a significant number of said persons will actually reduce their calorie intake as a result of #1 above.

        Third, you have to assume that reduced calorie intake will actually lead to singificant and sustained weight loss. Despite the “calories in/calories out” mantra, evidence to support this is stunningly meager. Pretty much every reduced-calorie diet study I’ve seen resulted in pathetic weight loss (like 2-5 lbs) and even then subjects regained it back within 6-12 months.

  7. I only eat fast food for breakfast. I used to like McDonald’s Egg McMuffins but they changed the bun and they now taste more bland than they used to. I don’t eat at McDonald’s any more. I like Chick Filet now. Their Chicken Minis are the BEST.

    If I saw a food labeled as high calories I would be MORE likely to eat it because the chances are higher that it would actually taste good.

    1. I still eat the Egg McMuffin (with hot sauce, to erase any bland muffinness). It’s actually not bad, calorie-wise. When I was a kid and totally unconcerned about what I ate, I’d get the sausage and egg biscuit with cheese, along with an order of hash browns and a coke. But, even then, I liked the McMuffin, so it’s not a total change for me.

      I got the sausage burritos (two at a time) for a while, and that is one item I eat less of because of the calories. It’s 600 for two, which seems a bit excessive for what you get. If I’m going there, I’m having eggs, biscuits, sausage gravy, bacon, grits, hash browns, etc. At some place other than McDonald’s.

      1. If they skipped the butter on the Muffin and used low-fat cheese, it would be an excellent health choice. As is, it’s below average, but not terrible and better than most other items on their breakfast menu.

        The Cinnamon Melts…omg the guilt I feel. Thankfully, the fat content (like Krispy Kreme and Cinnabon) makes me feel so sick (literally) that I only consume them on very rare occasions.

        1. If they skipped the butter on the Muffin and used low-fat cheese

          Over my dead body. Make it at home that way if you don’t like how McDonalds does it.

        2. “If they skipped the butter on the Muffin and used low-fat cheese”

          So that it could be even MORE tasteless? Look, if I have to remove the pleasures of life to live another five years it is not worth it in my book. I would rather ENJOY life. And to me, removing the taste from food removes a great deal of the pleasure of life. If you want to be the food equivalent of a Shaker go at it. But I choose a different path ? and I do not want others trying to dictate my food choices. I choose not to eat at McDonald’s anymore precisely BECAUSE much of their food has become bland and tasteless. Probably because they have already caved into the food NAZI’s too much.

          1. Do you know who else had food NAZIs

        3. The fat content is what makes you feel sick? Like when you ate too much of your Halloween candy, I suspect it’s the sugar content.

          1. Hmm…maybe…but glazed Krispy Kreme donuts don’t have an unusual amount of sugar. Eating two just makes my stomach churn. But I love them so. Thankfully, there’s only one franchise in the entire Northeast.

            As for the blandness of McD’s, I don’t agree that they’ve become more bland. They were never known for their seasoning. Normalization was the core of their mass appeal.

        4. Low-fat cheese is not healthier than normal cheese. Nor is butter unhealthy. Fat is a vital nutrient in our diets.

          1. Excess calories are unhealthy. Cutting fat grams is the easiest way to cut calories. Cutting the butter and half the fat from the cheese still leaves fat in the sandwich. Just in better proportion.

            1. But that assumes that low fat food is as satiating as high fat, low carb food. And it’s not. At least for most of us. What’s the point of eating a low fat, low calorie meal if you are ravenous two hours later?

      2. The sausage croissandwich(sp? fuggit) at Burger King is a superior food selection.

        1. My wife and I have been doing our own quick breakfast sandwichs at home. I’ll pre-cook some hot Turkey Sausage made into 2oz patties (sometimes with stovetop smoker which is awesome). Then in the morning we’ll toast some thin bagels or muffins (whole wheat or not), cook an egg in the microwave (spray a ramekin, slightly stir egg in that , 20 sec, stir again, 20 sec). Reheat the turkey sausage with a little cheese. Add some lo-fat mayo, good stuff. Takes less than a minute. Calories reasonble for a breakfast assuming you use the thin bagels and not the full size ones.

          1. If I ate breakfast everyday I would probably eat something a bit healthier like that. Usually, though, I only eat breakfast when I have a hangover and need a 2000 calorie gut buster to kill it.

            Most times I just go into a diner and order all the bacon and eggs they have.

        2. The Jack In The Box ultimate breakfast sandwich is the best fast food breakfast itme out there. I love it, but I only eat it about three times a year because it’s just a wad of fat on a bun.

          1. Sausage, Egg, and Cheese McGriddles.

            That is all.

            1. By the Allfather those are delicious. Fortunately eating anything at McDonalds seems to give me gnarly stomach issues, so I rarely have them. Normally my GI tract is a right garbage disposal – I guess it just can’t handle whatever genus of centipede they use for the “meat” there.

              1. By the Alimentaryfather, you mean.

            2. I want to kiss the guy or girl who came up with the McGriddle. I rarely get to eat them because like Sean I have to limit my McD’s experiences to few times a year, but every time I do it’s a breakfast orgy in my mouth.

    2. The caf at my high school offered a breakfast sandwich consisting of egg, cheese, and bacon/sausage on a bagel. The kicker was that they fried the bagel in butter (and whatever else fat) on the griddle. They would wrap them in foil and set them out; when you picked one up the grease would get all over you just from holding the wrapped sandwich. Delicious. I bet they still offer them; it was a private school.

  8. “Another recent study shows what really worked was imposing a higher price ? by way of a tax ? on big-calorie items.”

    Yes, let’s have a tax on manual laborers and poor people. I can get enough calories sipping lattes.

  9. so the consumer having LESS info is preferable?

    1. Most of these mandates are aimed at fast-food outlets, who already make the info avaialable to anyone who cares. As this study proves: nobody cares. But you knew that, right, troll? Or had it escaped your notice that chain restaurants have this info available if you ask for it or visit their website?

      1. no this study proves fat people order fatty foods regardless of the info available. but they then cant SUE over their own fatness & diabetes

    2. Not at all. But, the hilarity of watching the hand-wringing of the nannites when consumers continue to due what they like, and not what their betters want them to do, is priceless, don’t you think?

      1. While I do get a HUGE kick out of the nanny hand-wringing, hell must be freezing over because I agree with OO that I have a right as a consumer to be fully informed what the hell it is I am consuming.

        The upshot to the labeling that I don’t think most companies have really considered (if they had then everyone would try to at least label calories, fat, and sodium) is that it should provide at least a modicum of insulation against obesity and heart attack lawsuits.

        Of course, that doesn’t mean I think the government should be the ones forcing restaurants to post the info.

        1. If not the government, who enforces this “right as a consumer to be fully informed?”

          1. I thought the consumer did. Just as I refuse to shop in certain places because of their politics or their poor customer service, DesigNate would be free to only eat at places that voluntarily provide the nutritional stats of their food.

            Problem solved, and without making the job of owning an eatery unreasonably difficult for small business owners.

            1. I was asking more in reference to the “right” to have this information. Refusing to shop somewhere that doesn’t provide the experience you wish doesn’t make having the experience you wish a “right.”

              1. Your rights to have the information begin and end within the confines of your own head. Your free will dictates where you will spend your money, therefore you and you alone have the ability to enforce the right to have the information.

                Ever hear of voting with your feet?

          2. Not sure if serious….

            1. ^^^response to NEM, not Sloopy. Sloopy states the obvious answer far better than I.

          3. That’s a good question that I don’t have the answer to.

        2. You don’t have a right to know; you have a right to not consume if the contents are unknown or not to your liking.

        3. I have a right as a consumer to be fully informed what the hell it is I am consuming..

          You don’t have right, you have a desire. Try not to confuse the two.

        4. Damn, I guess there is still a little statist in me. Can I get an exorcism for that?

          1. Yes, but unfortunately it involves Tony and a pair of pliers.

          2. The power of liberty compels you!

    3. Actually, it’s interesting how little disclosures seem to help solve the ills they were mandated to address. Most people just don’t pay enough attention to such things, so mandating disclosure has little appreciable effect on consumers as a whole. Probably the most stark example of this is in financial disclosures.

      I’m all for disclosure, but I don’t really think it has to be compelled. I can get information on food pretty easily on the web, as can most Americans. And I’m highly doubtful that people–rich, poor, educated, or not educated–think that fast food is particularly healthy. So disclosures or not, people are going to eat what they want to eat.

      1. I’ve been obese: 5’8″, 360+ pounds. On the way up to that I tried dieting and exercise. I was even on a doctor-prescribed diet and exercise program. My weight wouldn’t dip more than 10 pounds or so until I spent 90+ minutes on an elliptical and eating under 1000 calories each day. I felt sick, weak and cranky trying to lose weight that way. Finally I decided I would rather be fat and happy than to be fat anyway and live with the grinding hunger that I couldn’t satisfy while on a diet. Hell, I could barely satisfy it while gaining weight.

        That’s what makes sense of this. Living with the kind of grinding hunger obese people feel is something that I doubt anyone can live with. Sure, you can do it for a few days, maybe a few months for the Iron Few, but not me. I had to find a way to end the grinding hunger to be able to lose weight.

        1. As a naturally thin person, I never had any sympathy for people with this problem for the longest time, until I got serious about strength training and started trying to add mass. I was able to put on about 15 lbs (160 from 145) but it took ridiculous self control and a lot of time feeling queasy from being too full. Fighting against homeostasis is a bitch.

      2. This is the thing that the nanny’s are missing, I think. The problem isn’t lack of information. Even before calorie values for fast food was widely available, no one thought that greasy cheeseburgers were a good diet food. No one is being fooled or defrauded here. People eat high calorie food because it tastes good and fills them up for not much money. It was just stupid from the start to think that more nutritional information would make people eat healthier at a fast food restaurant. People who are concerned about eating healthy don’t eat fast food regularly.

  10. I’ve been ordering the chicken salad at Burger King and it’s cheap and delicious! Of course, the ranch dressing has 200 calories, so you can only use one packet, otherwise you might as well be eating a burger.

    Now, do I want Uncle Obama or Aunt Michelle ordering me to eat salad? No, MY BODY, MY CHOICE. Hey pro-choicers, I’m talking to you since abortion seems to be the only choice you like.

    1. Do you support my choice to eat low calorie, but oh so yummy, aborted fetuses*?

      *They were just going to throw them out anyways.

      1. Um, hate to break this to you, but didn’t you already know that’s what they make deep dish pizza from?

        1. So it’s like I’ve been eating deep dish this whole time?


          *contemplates suicide*

    2. Gregooooooooooo!!!

  11. “I was optimistic we would find that people would make different choices based on having more information.” …


  12. Once again, the lefties’ invention of a “human right” to government-funded health care is really nothing more than a means of almost total social control. We’ll pay for your heart surgery if we can tell you what to eat. What a deal. Of course, they can;t come right out and say this, so the control comes in incrementally — first labelling, then lawsuits, then taxes, then bans. Maybe not necessarily in that order. But close.

    1. Labeling laws have been around a hell of a lot longer than obamacare, just saying.

      1. Government has been managing huge swaths of healthcare for quite a long time before the latest attempt to completely socialize medicine.

  13. After completing a study that showed most eaters did not operate as rationally as she expected, Harnack was heartsick.

    Why does she care so damn much how much other people weigh? Is she personally really fat and hoping the government will fix that for her, instead of finding a boyfriend who likes fat chicks?

    Or does she find us proles cluttering up her view?

    1. Seems to me that people continued to act perfectly rational. Given a preference between food that both tastes good and is inexpensive versus food that both tastes bland and is more expensive, people choose the former. Not rocket science.

      Now if, say, there was some sort of penalty for being obesely overweight, like you couldn’t buy health insurance without paying twice the premium of someone who is fit, then you might see a change in behavior. Maybe.

      1. Well, again, given our current system of perverse health care incentives I’d say probably not. If my current health care premiums doubled, I’d still only be paying 20% of the premium. The company would be paying the other 80%. In my case, I’d pay another 50 bucks a month. Based on what I’ve seen, that wouldn’t phase most obese folks.

      2. Now if, say, there was some sort of penalty for being obesely overweight, like you couldn’t buy health insurance without paying twice the premium of someone who is fit,

        Of course, that would be against the ObamaCare requirement for “community rating.”

        1. Thanks. I know that it wouldn’t work, but in a hypothetical world where healthcare wasn’t subsidized by corporations and individuals were responsible for themselves (gasp!), maybe it would?

          1. Oh, you mean in that other universe? Yeah, it probably works okay there. Maybe we should move.

      3. Now if, say, there was some sort of penalty for being obesely overweight

        Oh, but there are penalties. You can’t fit into spaces normal people fit. You can’t keep up with what normal people do. You have to hear the lectures from loving friends and family, knowing they mean you well.

        Worst of all for me was that I got so fat women stopped looking at me as a man. They got comfortable to the point they talked about subjects they reserved for when there are no men listening. It’s amazing to me now what women would tell me back then. But I got used to that too, having no other choice. Then I lost 125 pounds in 8 months and their reactions shifted just as quickly. It was a remarkably tough adjustment.

        1. And now you can see your dick again, too!!!

    2. “Or does she find us proles cluttering up her view?”

      Remember Meme Roth, the food nazi…she said fat people are disgusting with their greasy food.

  14. News Flash:

    People Like Food That Tastes Good and is Inexpensive. Regulations at 11.

  15. If only the government could make people have heart attacks.

    Rick Branch, 52, stopped in for a quick lunch. Out of several diners interviewed, he was the only one who reported being influenced by the calorie count. He ordered a chicken Snack Wrap, staying below 300 calories. He felt positive about his order. He was being good. Asked when he started paying close attention to calories and nutrition data, Branch said, “More so since the heart attack.”

    1. But I’ve had a heart attack and it still didn’t change my appetite, except briefly during the recovery period (which would be true for most illnesses).

  16. Imagine that. People who don’t care about their calorie intake actually don’t care about their calorie intake.

    Face, meet palm. Palm, face.

    1. People who don’t care about their calorie intake actually don’t care about their calorie intake.

      Wait, wait, wait. Slow down. So, are you trying to say that they don’t care about their calorie intake?

  17. the obesity crisis

    “Crisis.” Really? 6months from now it should be upto “holocaust”. Then the nannies can enact their final solution without obstacles.

    1. Aren’t we already in a WAR on Obesity ?

    2. Anything is better than “epidemic”.

  18. After completing a study that showed most eaters did not operate as rationally as she expected, Harnack was heartsick.

    Look, when I go to Whataburger, I go to get a #2 with cheese and jalapenos, Whatasized, with a Dr Pepper. My kids could order for me by the time they were 2. I don’t go there to compare lower calorie options. I don’t go there to act in accordance with Harnack’s view of rationality. I go there to get what I want. Is it really hard for her to understand that?

    1. Is it really hard for her to understand that?

      Yes. How do you live with yourself, making such bad life decisions. INVOLVING YOU CHILDREN in said decisions.

      You’re a monster.

      1. Yup, you’re a monster all right. #5 is the only way to go.

        1. A fine choice, to be sure, but I like bacon crispier than they usually make it.

      2. No, he’s a Night Elf Mohawk!

    2. Whataburger is awesome, I’ve gone through Texas a few times and love that place.

      I was googlin’ to see if there were any near me(hoping); alas, none. But, I did find this cool Whataburger ad with Nolan Ryan.

      You can’t get Whataburger in Pittsburgh

      Ain’t that the truth.

      1. The WhataBurger in my town used to be good. Now the food doesn’t justify putting up with the shitty attitudes from the old women who have worked there for the last thirty years.

    3. She apparently has a hard time understanding that what you want is different than what she wants you to want.

      All that talk by nannystatists about empathy is based on a faulty definition — “I can totally understand people who think exactly like me!”

  19. I suspect Harnack believes “rationality” means “doing what Harnack tells you.”

  20. Perversely, some diners see the labels yet consume more calories than usual.


  21. It won’t be long before fatties are given a choice between Weight Watchers or jail.

    1. jail? so they can sit around not-burning-calories on the public dime? Sorry, but it’ll be Final Solution time.

      1. L.A. will end up rendering them for their water.

        1. Yeah, I’ve been thinking about changing my handle to Soylent Green.

          1. Soylent Blue – It’s made of old ladies.

    2. Commerce Clause!

  22. Yeah that makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Wow.


  23. There never really seems to be any differentiating between government defined obesity (via BMI) and chronic obesity. The nannies lament about how fat everyone else, but most overweight people live normal productive lives. Yeah, they’re not doing the 10K run for breast cancer but they can do everything they need to. Then there are people who are chronically obese that cannot function normally. Some cannot work, cannot walk, cannot do much of anything. All of these nanny solutions are not going to help those people (not that they would help anyone else).

    1. I saw an interesting collection of photos of people (can’t remember where right now, I think Balko linked to it on the Agitator once) who are overweight or obese according to the BMI standard. A few of them were definitely fatties, but most were of short and stocky build or were muscular and fit. BMI is truly useless when talking about individuals.

  24. If people personally value unhealthy foods, smoking, drinking, etc., over the potential loss of life expectancy and other negative effects that they get from consuming these products, they should be free to make these choices, regardless of how “irrational” others may feel they are.

    It’s when you socialize the costs of said negative effects that the banning advocacy really gets going–after all, who wants to be forced to pay for the poor decisions of others?

    Hmm, wait, that sounds familiar. I wonder who else argued along similar lines?

    That’s right.

    1. You know it’s funny I see more fit people at work on crutches or nursing injuries than I do non-fit people.

      1. It’s true JB…though I think fat people tend more to scooters than crutches.

        I joke that my sister’s rec. soccer league is sponsored by the Association of King County Orthopedic Surgeons.

    2. “they should be free to make these choices”

      You misunderstand what freedom means.

      Freedom means being free from choice.

      When you obey the lawgivers without question and let them make your choices for you, you are free to pursue the pinnacle of the hierarchy of needs.

      Freedom is slavery.

  25. As with pretty much anything else, I wish they’d learn to accept that just because they think that something is dangerous, doesn’t mean it needs government control. If people can manage to live their lives obese without being an undue burden on others, what need is there of government intervention? It’s the same with things like moronic laws requiring life jackets for swimming outdoors. Just because some people can’t do it safely, doesn’t mean we can’t allow anyone to do it.

  26. fast food can easily be a pretty healthy option, most of them have some sort of chicken sandwich which is suprisingly tender and tasty for chicken breast (thanks to phosphate brines), and taco bell has the little value menu of small things. I can’t count how many times I’ve gotten the little thingy of refried beans, last I checked beans were a vegetable and healthy – all you need is that and one other small thing, like a small thingy of cottage cherese, and you’ve got a pretty healthy lunch.

    All this obesity hullaballoo is simply because liberals are fucking stupid parrots who just parrot whatever fucking issue or concern they hear about that even only mildly matches their rhetoric. Americans are not exceptionally fat – the problem is the BMI, which is a ludicrous measurement. According to it, even Michael Jordan is “obese”, but really it’s only because he’s tall, so he’s disproportionately heavier. Hell, the nice and curvy women I like would like 80% of the time measure “obese” on the BMI.

    1. Curvy and sturdy.
      Hot and dusty.
      Like a tractor.

  27. Just because some people can’t do it safely, doesn’t mean we can’t allow anyone to do it.

    Wait, what?

  28. What’s perverse is how the government makes itself dependent on vice taxes. It’s a collaboration between nannies and statists.

  29. Skipping the food labeling mandates for a min… the truth is that going after the food is a consequence of not being able to go after the fatties themselves. Because of the community rating standards/guidelines used for the vast majority of health insurance provided by group plans/employers, fatties arent necessarily charged significantly more for their bad habits. Meaning, the law prevents insurers from appropriately charging the people who end up costing them the most, reducing disincentives for people to make long-term unhealthy choices (as opposed to the short-term and immediate decision of, “what am I going to eat right now?”) Also – the insurers often don’t carry the whole burden for life, because eventually these people can often be dumped off on medicare when the time comes, of course…

    The point is that our system actually prevents the use of the more obviously effective levers/ incentives-disincentives… so the social engineers go after the food itself rather than people’s behaviors. Why they’re at all surprised by the ineffectiveness of this sort of program is ridiculous. They fall into a trap of believing their own propaganda… and describe the failures of their concepts as a failure of the consumer to be ‘rational’ rather than anything wrong with the idea from the beginning. As noted above… ‘rational HOW?’ Their definition of ‘rational’ is, ‘someone who follows arbitrarily-imposed, artificial behavioral cues’? They seem to think people are even less independent than rats… that people should respond to ‘rules’ imposed from outside only in the ways that the rules are intended to make them respond. People DO look at the labels, people DO look at nutritional content…. and most of the time they eat what they want anyway.

    Id probably argue it (labeling) has more of an effect on supermarket shoppers who do 1-1 comparisons of different products in the same category, and sometimes make a decision based on comparative nutritonal value or fat/salt avoidance,etc.

    But – in most of these cases its still negligible on outcomes. People don’t necessarily eat less salty food – they eat more of slightly-less salty brands, and get the same result, despite feeling better about themselves.

    I used to point this out to my mom back in the 80s when she would buy 4 boxes of Snackwells cookies (*which only she would eat, kids finding them disgusting). I’m like, “Mom, eating 4 boxes of ‘healthy’ cookies yourself a month is not better than getting 2 boxes of the shit we actually all like to eat”

    …but people do the false trade-offs thing all the time. They’ll use some nauseating low-fat butter substitute or something whenever they cook, and then give themselves ‘credits’ for their healthy decision… and reward those credits with a 1000 calorie Mocha-Latte every day. In the end they’re probably worse off, but they ‘feel’ better about their decisions.

    1. I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    2. dude, low-fat butters aren’t bad, they’re pretty tasty, the artifical flavors are stronger than real butter

      the problem is it doesn’t slowly brown in cooking or emulsify itself a little bit in sauces

      1. If by “arent bad”, you think trans-fats are better than regular old saturated fats for your body….?

        Its no different than the diet soda vs. sugar thing = yes, one is higher in a “bad” ingredient which your body burns naturally… and the other is higher in a complex synthetic which your body gets pretty confused by and processes differently.

        No matter what, the distinctions are arguable – the ‘healthy’ isnt in the food, but in your behaviors. You might feel better using synthetics, but it doesn’t make you ‘healthier’ in any way, per se.

        1. I meant taste-wise, culinarily speaking

          other than that fat is fat, 9 calories per gram – though some of the butter spreads have water and air mixed in so the same amount of “spread” is less calories, which can be useful if you want to butter your bread

        2. Sugar (sucrose) in any quantity has been in the human diet for 200 years, and in the quantities Americans eat it, never before. It was just too expensive. It’s not natural to us at all. The body breaks it in half, sends one half (glucose) directly to the blood stream where insulin directs it to the fat cells. The other half (fructose) is processed by the liver as a poison, just like alcohol.

          My father used to talk about getting an orange at Christmas — what a thrill it was to get a piece of fruit in the winter. Now we eat candies and drink sugar water that have words like “sports drink” and “energy bar” and pretend it’s better for you than filling up on root beer floats.

          1. Cows have only been domesticated for the last 8000 years. Before that, they were running around mad as lorries. The human digestive system hasn’t got used to dairy products yet.

            1. What have you been reading, Tommy?

              1. Let me do you a favor.

    3. “fatties arent necessarily charged significantly more for their bad habits”

      What about skinnies who bitch “I just can’t put on any weight!” What about fatties who are just “big-boned”? People aren’t interchangeable widgets.

  30. Vice taxes are a travesty. I understand where originally one might have thought them a good idea, but the reality is they allow the government, and their lobyists much, much more power than they would have had otherwise. It is very easy to manipulate the market for a specific business with targeted sin taxes, as well as their flip-side, targeted tax breaks.

    Both need to end.

  31. Soon, they’ll start forcing companies to put pictures of what DIABEETUS can do, like losing legs and such… what clogged arteries look like, pictures of people weighing more than 400 lbs and all sorts of disgusting images.

    It may not necessarily work for smokers, but who wants to eat after seeing all that nasty shite? Watch! It’s coming!

    1. Am I not warning enough?

      1. The link between diabeetus and your flavor of insanity is a little sketchy, but other than that, yes.

        1. Why take the chance?

  32. Is there any evidence that calorie counting actually works, in the sense that one becomes more aware by doing the math than one would actually feel from the eating? I have the idea that all the numbers do is tell you in advance how much of an appetite you’re going to have left at the end of the day, or after a couple hours.

    1. Satiety isn’t directly tied to caloric intake.

      If you drink 8oz of soda, you will have consumed 100 calories, yet not feel much of anything. Whereas an apple will give you roughly the same number yet do a better job of satisfying.

  33. What we need now is a conclusive, independent study detailing the harmful effects of second-hand fat.

  34. The problem is that we don’t label carrots and such. I have no idea how many calories are in a carrot, so I choose the burger king triple whopper with quadruple bacon and pentagonal cheese. I mean, the carrot must be supper caloric if they can’t even list how many calories it has. The precautinary principle tells me its better to eat the devil you know (delicious burger king whopper) than the evil unknown dangers lurking in a carrot…

      I love it. Somehow I never noticed they didn’t require nutritional information on commodity foods. Why not? Hmm…

  35. If you want to understand nanny-state-ism, all you have to do is read the comments on the original Washington Post article. It’s about evenly divided between sanctimoniousness “I’m so glad for the calorie counts! Now I am so wonderfully healthy.” and a disturbing viciousness toward people who are heavier than the commenters think is good. They are called names like “fatty tubbos”, and there is much hand-wringing about how much their disgusting habits are costing the righteous.

    1. Thank goodness that kind of adolescent, mean-spirited behavior never happens here.

      1. Nothing wrong with a little adolescent/mean-spirited behavior. The problem is with this is the underlying attitude of being perfectly comfortable with dictating what others should or shouldn’t do down to the level of what they eat.

  36. Once again, it’s not the results that matter, it’s the intentions! Why do you want people to be obese?

  37. Personally, I hope all you libertoid assholes smoke and eat ourselves into oblivion. Then nobody will have to listen to your moronic carping about nannies anymore. idiots.

    1. So you enjoy slavery then?

      Personally I prefer to prosper or screw up based on my own decisions, not those forced upon me by others.

    2. “ourselves?”

      Your veil is slipping.

    3. seems extreme max. maybe forced enimas w faygo will help the libtoids think more clearly…plus lose weight))

    4. i don’t (and would never) smoke. I eat very healthily and with an eye towards sports performance. i get bloodwork done twice a year to check lipids, and other blood components as well.

      i avoid hepatotoxic drugs (like tylenol) like the plague. i’d rather suffer pain than overly stress my liver.

      but guess what?


      just because i believe nannyism is bad does not mean i believe eating junk (at least more than occasionally) is good

      this is a locus of control issue. the issue is WHO SHOULD MAKE THE CHOICE AND WHO SHOULD HAVE THE FREEDOM?

      the answer is: the consumer.

      labeling is good, choice restricting imposed nannyism like San Fran’s happy meal ban is NOT.

      one can support the choice to do X free from govt. interference w./o supporting X

      i think MJ is lame as fuck and wouldn’t smoke it if it was legal

      it doesn’t follow that i support govt. limiting (adult) person’s choice to do so

      grok the distinction?

    5. Max, this is about choice

      i don’t smoke. i eat (very) healthily.

      great. MY decision

      i avoid tylenol and other hepatotoxic drugs too.

      my choice.

      just because i, as a libertarian support the choice to do X does NOT mean i support X.

      i wouldn’t smoke MJ if it was legal. it’s lame as fuck. i just don’t support govt. limiting that choice.

      also, ime there is not a shortage of obese and unhealthy fucksticks amongst statist nanny liberals. everybody has the chance to make the right decisions.

      this is about saying govt. doesn’t have the right to limit my ability to eat a fucking ho-ho because my neighbor is a fat fuck who lives on them for breakfast lunch and dinner.

      our choices we make are often their own rewards or punishments.

  38. i’m for food labeling. NOT because it is going to stem the obesity crisis. people are obese PRIMARILY (rare medical exceptions) because of personal choices they make. and they make those choices knowing damn well the consequences.it’s just a lack of discipline and a choosing of short term pleasure (the next cheeseburger) over longterm benefits they will get from prolonged discomfort of not stuffing their faces.

    what food labeling provides is (for those who care) information to make more informed choices.

    iow, it’s not about obesity (imo) it’s simply about informed choice.

    on some days i have choosen over 5 thousand kilocalories. labeling helps

    1. I’m for food labeling as well. Voluntary food labeling.

      If a restaurant doesn’t want to label food, I won’t eat there. Problem solved without the involvement of the state. You know, dunphy, you could do the same without imposing your decisions onto the rest of us.

      1. where did i say i was for GOVERNMENT MANDATED food labeling?

        major reading comprehension fail…

        i said, and i quite “i’m for food labeling”.

        iow, food labeling is a good thing. i did not say i was for GOVT. MANDATED FOOD LABELING (specifically for nutrition at restaurants, etc.)…

        sorry, fail

        1. Fair enough. I stand corrected.

        2. Yeah, I can’t see how I missed that. Sorry, and I stand corrected.

          1. i appreciate that. it’s nice that we have mature enough posters that (most of us) can acknowledge a simple error.

            i don’t think labeling should be mandatory, to clarify, but i do draw a bright line between labeling and the real nanny crap like SF’s ban on happy meals. iow, i support neither, but the latter is far far far far more concerning to me than mandatory labeling.

            labeling doesn’t limit choice. food bans do. producers are still free to sell a product and consumers to buy it. if mcd’s wants to market a “all lard” patty, they can whether they have to label the calorie/fat content or not

            i just don’t think (apart from mandatory labeling for dangerous food allergies like “this product contains peanuts”) that there is sufficient cause for govt. to REQUIRE labeling

            it would be better if (larger restaurants, since they have economy of scale to do so) restaurants do so, since it helps consumers but i see this as distinct from, for example, securities regulations where companies ARE required and should be required to conform to certain rules regarding financial disclosures etc. if they want to market their stock on the exchanges.

            i would also draw a bright line between labeling of products as in what they are vs. nutrition etc.

            for example, a decent argument could be made that raw milk, raw milk cheeses, etc. need to be labeled as such. just not banned and god forbid no FDA/USDA SWAT raids on amish farmers for selling raw milk. they certainly shouldn’t have to list fat, protein etc.

            i get a kick out of the fact that sushi restaurants in my area put disclaimers on sashimi products etc. such as “warning contains raw fish bla bla bla”. if you are ordering sashimi and you don’t know the fish is raw, you got bigger problems, buddy

            1. i just don’t think (apart from mandatory labeling for dangerous food allergies like “this product contains peanuts”) that there is sufficient cause for govt. to REQUIRE labeling

              i get a kick out of the fact that sushi restaurants in my area put disclaimers on sashimi products etc. such as “warning contains raw fish bla bla bla”. if you are ordering sashimi and you don’t know the fish is raw, you got bigger problems, buddy

              And yet you favor mandatory labeling for nut allergies on, say, a bag of nuts?

              1. I wonder if fugu has warning labels?

                1. iirc, only special sushi chefs (specially certified/licensed)are allowed to prepare fugu AND they must inform the customer of the risks. i am speaking of japan

        3. Would have been much more clear if you had added the word “voluntary”. I dont think the fail was as much sloopy’s reading comprehension as your writing. In context of this thread, “food labeling” can easily be construed to mean “mandatory food labeling”.

          1. i am of the general school of thought that don’t assume what isn’t there is usually a win. people in internet threads generally assume what is not there, when what is not there contradicts their beliefset. that’s the internet corollary ™

    2. Wow, 5,000,000 calories? that must have hurt!

      1. The Calories used in food labeling are actually kilocalories. I.e. one Calorie can heat 1000 g of water up by 1 degree.

        1. correct!

    3. Agree that labeling is good. But mandated labeling for restaurants is overly burdensome for small chains or independents and the big chains already have that information readily available to anyone who wants it.

      1. I have an idea. Instead of getting into specifics, restaurants could voluntarily label food as healthy, less healthy, junk, and not really food at all. Some sort of industry association could set parameters around each grouping.

        1. no. that’s a far WORSE “solution”. because it’s entirely subjective. and again – healthy for WHAT? for example, the CW amongst the ignorati is that saturated fat is “bad”. well, no. if you don’t get enough saturated fat, your testosterone levels will plummet and you will have other medical problems as well. excess saturated fat IS bad, but again it varies depending on genetic factors, level of activity, etc.

          there is (with the arguable exception of trans-fat) no BAD foods. there are bad diets, but even then – that varies individual to individual.

          at least nutrition labeling is objective.

          if a food item has x grams of this and y grams of that – that’s not subjective, nor is it a value statement based on your particular understanding of nutrition

          your solution most definitely is.

          i used to be a personal trainer and i am currently a weight classed strength athlete. a diet that would be excellent for ME, would very well suck for some people- a sedentary male in their 50;’s for instance.

          there is a time and a place in my diet for simple sugars, for example. i am talking pure dextrose – like smarties. not the case with a sedentary male.

          again, nutritional needs vary, and there is still a fair bit of controversy about macronutrient ratios, certain micronutrients, etc. even amongst EXPERTS. lets leave the subjectivity to that field NOT introduce it in some sort of subjective labeling scheme done by the restaurant industry

          and again, italian restaurants (processed carb heavy) would they have enough clout to overrule more paleo etc. restaurants as to the benefits of flours, gluten, etc.? would vegan restaurants agree that ANY sort of meat, let alone red meat could ever be “healthy”?

          your “solution” is ridiculous

          1. Sorry, I’ve already e-mailed my representative.

  39. ::: I paid $32.67 for a XBOX 360 and my mom got a 17 inch Toshibalaptop for $94.83 being delivered to our house tomorrow by fedex. I will never again pay expensive retail prices at stores.I even sold a 46 inch HDTV to my boss for $650 and it only cost me $52.78 to get. Here is the website we using to get all this stuff, BuzzSave.com

    1. edsa’s an asshole.

  40. Ohio blocking food nannyism by local governments. Liberal Cleveland not happy.


  41. I see high-calorie as a sign of quality; more bang for your buck.

    I control my weight by rigid carb restricting, and otherwise I eat whenever I feel hungry. Calorie-restriction is a relic of 19th century nutritional thinking, and fat-restriction is a relic of mid-20th century nutritional thinking.

  42. also, another thing labels do is help maximize value / dollar.

    for some people, max dollar is the most food energy / dollar. in that respect, extremely calorically dense high calorie foods are a PLUS

  43. People will only begin to eat better when socialized healthcare is cancelled altogether. When John McFatty comes to realize that his countrymen won’t be paying for his quadruple bypass surgery he’ll begin to think about taking better care of himself. And if he doesn’t then who cares, let the fat bastard pay his own medical bills.

  44. “People who use the labels often don’t need to. (Meaning: They are thin.)”

    If the people who are using the labels are thin, doesn’t this mean it might be working?

    It certainly seems better evidence for the efficacy of these labels than as evidence that they are useless. At worst it is inconclusive.

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