Policy

Los Angeles May Back Down on Fast Food Paternalism

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Better than broccoli

Matt Welch and Reason TV have previously reported on the City of Los Angeles' paternalistic treatment of South L.A.'s residents by banning the opening of new fast food restaurants.

Now it's possible that the city may scale back on its regulatory meddling. Via CBS Los Angeles:

Dozens of South Los Angeles residents Thursday were expected to attend a hearing about a plan that opponents fear could crowd the city with fast-food restaurants.

Officials with the city Planning Commission are scheduled to consider a draft of the West Adams-Baldwin Hills-Leimert Park Community Plan that would exempt the 10th Council District from a ban on new fast-food eateries that has been in effect since 2008.

Love the framing of that first paragraph there. Not banning the construction of fast food restaurants is the same as creating a huge eruption of them everywhere, right?

The story notes that a study from the National Institutes of Health determined that the density of fast food restaurants in Southern Los Angeles is not out of line with other neighborhoods. As somebody who lives in mid-L.A. and drives through that area to get to our lovely new Reason offices every day, I can anecdotally declare that there is absolutely no difference with the fast food density there compared to other places.

But that didn't stop William McCarthy, a professor at the UCLA School of Public Health, from giving this remarkably revealing and insulting soundbite regarding the general public's personal choices:

However, McCarthy said personal responsibility for dietary choices is only one factor involved in the health issues raised by allowing more fast-food restaurants into the neighborhood, and that lawmakers can, and should, be doing more to protect the public.

"It's more than that because people are influenced by visual cues and by other influences that they're not totally aware of, so there is a role of government to help nudge them in the direction of healthier choices," he said.

Below, watch Reason TV analyzing L.A.'s food police in 2011:

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