Government Plans To Save Us All

      37 Comments on Government Plans To Save Us All

I was disappointed to learn that my home state of Tennessee is jumping on the “government must prevent obesity” bandwagon by instituting a new program called Eat Well, Play More Tennessee

The title pretty much says it all:  the state is going to tell us what to eat and encourage us to exercise more.  Man, it’s inspiring to see government officials thinking outside the box.

The program’s home page states This plan is closely associated with the Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  I’m guessing “closely associated” means the state program is funded by a federal grant.  It may even part of the “stimulus” package or the health-care “reform” bill … hard to say, since nobody in Congress actually read either one.

If the funding didn’t come from the feds, the advice certainly does.  One of the documents featured on the site is a list of anti-obesity strategies produced by the CDC.  Here’s a paragraph from the Methods section:

The Measures Project Team completed a full review of 94 articles and seven seminal documents, resulting in the identification of 791 potential obesity prevention strategies. Similar and overlapping strategies were collapsed, resulting in a final total of 179 environmental or policy-level strategies for obesity prevention.

Well, that boosts my confidence already.  If the CDC is promoting 179 separate anti-obesity strategies, there’s an outside chance one of them might work.  The trouble with offering a simple solution (such as admitting that sugar and refined carbohydrates are fattening and ceasing to subsidize them) is that if it fails, you don’t have 178 back-up plans.

Another document featured on the site is the Surgeon General’s Vision For a Healthy and Fit Nation.  This one is also full of bold new strategies, such as:

  • Choose low-fat foods
  • Eat more whole grains
  • Become more physically active

The Surgeon General’s report opens by explaining that while obesity rates were low and stable during the 1960s and 1970s, they began to skyrocket over the next two decades.  I can’t help but wonder if the committee members who produce these reports ever engage in conversations along the lines of:

“In closing, Mr. Chairman, the data demonstrates that obesity began to rise around 1980.”

“I see.  And what can we do about it?”

“We recommend implementing programs to convince the public to consume less fat and more whole grains.”

“And this is a new strategy?”

“No.  We put it in place around 1980.”

Naturally, the new state program calls for getting the schools involved.  The recommendations include placing a nutrition counselor at every school and requiring teachers to take nutrition classes.

I can see how that will make a big difference.  Look at the current situation: kids leave the classroom for the school cafeteria, where they’re served meals dictated by federal guidelines … teeny portions of protein with sides of mashed potatoes, noodles, rolls, peaches in syrup, and boxes of apple juice.  Amazingly, those foods haven’t produced thinner kids.

After years of research, the state pinpointed the reason:  the teachers don’t understand why kids need mashed potatoes, noodles, rolls, peaches in syrup, and boxes of apple juice.  Educate the classroom teachers, and the federal guidelines enforced in the cafeterias will finally work.

Germany, perhaps not surprisingly, is considering a somewhat more punitive means of dealing with fat people:  slap higher taxes on them:

Marco Wanderwitz, a conservative member of parliament for the German state of Saxony, said it is unfair and unsustainable for the taxpayer to carry the entire cost of treating obesity-related illnesses in the public health system.

“I think that it would be sensible if those who deliberately lead unhealthy lives would be held financially accountable for that,” Wanderwitz said, according to Reuters.

It’s nice to know the deep thoughts of MeMe Roth are finally gaining a following in Europe.

Others are suggesting even more extreme measures.  The German teachers association recently called for school kids to be weighed each day, The Daily Telegraph said.  The fat kids could then be reported to social services, who could send them to health clinics.

Given the country’s history, let’s hope sending the inferior people off to “clinics” strikes most Germans as a very bad idea.

The state of Michigan helped its citizens to become leaner and healthier this year, too.  How?  By encouraging them to give up meat for a day.  The resolution is fascinating; I’ve never heard vegan propaganda translated into legalese before:

Whereas, A wholesome diet of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains promotes good health and reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases, which take the lives of approximately 1.3 million Americans each year; and,

Whereas, The number of those who choose to live the lifestyle of a vegan or vegetarian has increased and so has the availability and selection of meat and dairy alternatives in mainstream grocery stores, restaurants, and catering operations; and,

Whereas, Reducing the consumption of meat or not eating meat at all can significantly decrease the exposure to infectious pathogens such as salmonella, E. coli, and campylobacter, which take the lives of several thousand Americans and sicken millions more each year; and,

Whereas, The benefits of a plant-based diet can consist of increased energy levels, lower food budget costs, and simplified food preparation and cleanup; and,

Whereas, It is encouraged that the residents of this state get into the habit of healthy living by consuming a diet that is rich with vegetables, fruit, and whole grains, and by staying active;

Now, Therefore, be it Resolved, That I, Jennifer M. Granholm, governor of the state of Michigan, do hereby proclaim March 20, 2010, Michigan Meatout Day in Michigan. In observance of this day, I encourage the residents of this state to choose not to eat meat.

I love it.  It’s nearly as silly as the opening speech in Monty Python’s sketch The Royal Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things.

Speaking of silly people across the pond, Scotland has decided it can cure obesity by ordering restaurants to serve smaller portions:

The SNP administration at Holyrood said it will ask chefs to reduce the calorific content of their meals, but warned legislation will follow if they fail to make “sufficient” progress.

The strategy argues an interventionist stance is required by the state because people will not sufficiently change their eating and exercise habits of their own free will.

Riiiiiight.  But if you force the restaurants to serve smaller meals, then people will lose weight.  I mean, it’s not as if they’ll go home and say, “Aaaacchhh!  That damned little meal!  Step aside, I’m fryin’ up a pan of chips.”

Shona Robison, Scottish public health minister, said: “No country in the world has successfully addressed obesity and we want Scotland to be the first.

Now that statement shows some amazing stupi–  uh … confidence.  No government in the world has successfully addressed obesity, but Shona Robinson has it all figured out.  And here I thought the obvious conclusion is that government anti-obesity plans don’t work.

Or perhaps government programs need a more direct approach, like the one suggested by an official in Britain:

Doctors should stop mincing their words and tell the overweight they are fat, the public health minister has said. Anne Milton called on the NHS to ban terms such as “obese” because they do not have the same emotional impact.

The former nurse said larger people were less likely to bother to try to lose weight if they were told they were obese or overweight than if the doctor was blunt and said they were “fat.”

Mrs Milton told the BBC that it was important people took “personal responsibility” for their lifestyles. Speaking in a personal capacity, the public health minister said: ‘If I look in the mirror and think I am obese I think I am less worried than if I think I am fat.’

“How’s my health, doctor?”

“I’m sorry to break this to you, but … well, you’re fat.”

“What?!  No way!  I looked in the mirror this morning.  I’m not fat; I’m just obese!”

“No, I’m sorry, but you’re fat.  Really, really, really fat.”

“I’ll be damned.  Now I feel personally responsible.”

By the way, the picture you see to the left is of Mrs. Milton.  Someone needs to tell her she’s fat.  She clearly hasn’t been informed.


37 thoughts on “Government Plans To Save Us All

  1. mezzo

    Oh dear. Should we remind them of the definition of madness “Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result”? As for Europe and more specifically Germany: Our nutritional guidelines (published by the German Nutrition Board DGE funded with public money) are just being revised and a few days ago they held a conference on the significance of carbohydrate in the diet. Mostly mainstream, from what I hear but a few people (eminent nutritionists who support the low-carb lifestyle) who think outside the box did actually attend and stirred up quite a bit of discussion. The draft guidelines will be published soon and the public is invited to offer comments on their website. They have already come as far as indicting the overconsumption of sugar whereas in the past their chairman used to say things like “you can never get fat from eating sugar”…He passed away last year. So while we don’t expect a major turnaround in the new guidelines we don’t expect them to get any worse and as far as I can see the government is not out to turn us into grain-munching vegetarians or vegans (though grains are still sacrosanct of course). Another thing: it is true that people around here are using a lot of convenience food and many of the younger generation barely know how to boil an egg the consumption of processed foods has not reached such high proportions as over in the U.S. Maybe I should say “not yet” but happily there are still lots of people who love cooking and eat a fairly wholesome diet (meat and all…). And, more happily, people tend not to follow official nutrition guidelines. The rantings of some members of state parliaments are annoying, true, but they shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Some of these people will do or say anything to get attention…

    We shouldn’t take any of these goofs seriously. Fortunately, with all the information available on the internet, I believe fewer and fewer people are simply accepting government advice.

  2. Ben_P

    “It’s nearly as silly as the opening speech in Monty Python’s sketch The Royal Society For Putting Things On Top of Other Things.”

    That’s why I stopped following politics. Politicians seem to think political satire is actually a bunch of really great ideas.

    That’s what my comedian pal Tim Slagle and discovered while doing political humor. We’d stretch government proposals to absurb levels for comic effect, then the government would catch up and surpass us.

  3. Sean

    I was watching a British diet documentary hosted by a famous doctor. At one point she goes to a factory to see how low fat mayo is made. They essentially substitute some goopy carbs, of course. The doctor approved but warned people that it still wasn’t healthy because even low fat mayo has a lot of fat. Also the doctor had her body comp checked and was like 30% BF, classic thin-fat, high carb, chronic cardio body.

    Also did you see this bit of idiocy?

    Yup, I saw it. If her husband can’t quit smoking, why does she think she can convince carb addicts to eat less by changing the menu?

  4. Steve Parker, M.D.

    If the aforementioned plans make any sense, we might as well have government take over the food and agriculture industries. We’ll just go to government run cafeterias for all meals, weigh-ins, and fitness check-ups. Outlaw private food supplies.

    The polititians would be exempted, of course.

    I see the potential for efficiency: step in here for your government-run meal … hmmm, you seem to get getting fatter and sicker … step over there for your government-run medical care.

  5. darMA

    I think I have to stop reading your blog first thing in the morning. You’ve become a serious threat to my health – damn near choked on my coffee (with heavy cream, of course). If only we could find a way to make these idiots see themselves through your eyes – instead of “gee, I’m really, really fat”, it would be “gee, I’m really, really stupid”.

    There’s a thought … if we can convince their doctors to tell them they’re stupid, they might finally get it.

  6. Paolo (Italy)

    I just can’t stand it anymore. I’m glad my children have a grandmother that cooks for them in the old way so they don’t have to eat at school what provided by our national guidelines.

    That’s why our girls pack a lunch.

  7. dlm

    A doctor told me I was flabby (when I complained of migraines). Did not help me become unflabby. Years later when I was diagnosed with type 2 and luckily followed Richard Bernstein’s Diabetic Doctor’s Solution low carb, the flab improved. All those years I was a sugar/starch addict and kept telling all doctors I had two aunts who were type 2 and never the connection was made until an uncle had type 2 leg surgery and I was finally tested at 12 HbAic.

    Fat people know they’re fat, and the vast majority of them hate it. The idea that a little extra shame will motivate them is insane.

  8. Hilary Kyro

    Whereas, health ministers with muffin-tops, bat-wings, double-bums and visible Juvenile Diet Diabetic Arthritis have much to teach in regards to emotional wounding, I propose life-size photo-figures of Mrs. Milton be posted around point-of-purchase displays of whole wheat pasta, eggplants and recumbent stationary bicycles with drink-holders and magazine racks.

    Whereas and Therefore it is hereby Accepted as a Brilliant Idea.

  9. Bruce

    “Naturally, the new state program calls for getting the schools involved. The recommendations include placing a nutrition counselor at every school and requiring teachers to take nutrition classes.”

    As the husband of a retired teacher, the above statement should be used whenever someone asks “Why can’t Johnny read?” or when they wonder why they are paying so much in taxes for their school system.

    Another worthless program that takes away REAL class time.

    Exactly. Every time the geniuses in government hatch another plan to save us, they decide to run part of it through the schools. I want the teachers to teach my kids reading, writing, etc. I’ll take care of the rest.

  10. Hilary Kyro

    Seriously, this is not the menu of a retarded person on death row, this is a real school breakfast in California:
    Cinnamon bun, Cinnamania, orange juice, soy or low-fat milk. For the benefit of the unschooled, Kellogg’s Cinnamania is a bag of fructose-frosted biscuits in a shaped as a coiled snake. Cinnamania; it’s brain tumors’ favorite breakfast cookie.
    There is no meat in the monthly menu, unless we count the modified pork ingredients in the “Pancake on a stick” entree. It’s not vegan, but a wheat lollipop is not meat.
    Why do we take such care about what we feed our recycling bins and yet fill sensitive, habit-seeking, growing children with toxic waste?

    It’s shameful. And this is happening because the people who promoted the low-fat, grain-based diet are incapable of admitting they were wrong.

  11. Jan

    Well, let’s just ratchet up the last socially acceptable prejudice a few notches. Why don’t they just throw in some Jim Crow laws, while they’re at it?

    I’m going to try and be respectful of your space here and not curse up a blue streak. #&%@ing morons.

    I share that sentiment.

  12. Chris Sturdy

    Unreal on all counts. I’d like to think the Canadian government is different, but from what I’ve seen, if the Canadian “Food” Guide is any indication, you could likely write a piece on them, too.

    I’m afraid the U.S. model of a “healthy” diet has infected much of the world.

  13. Chris B

    Our company-sponsored health insurance has just notified us that unless we provide them with our “biometrics”, i.e., numbers for total cholesterol, HDL, LDL, triglycerides, glucose, weight, and BMI, we will have to pay higher insurance rates next year.
    So, if I want to keep my health management between me and my doctor and not allow them to track my stats, I will have to pay more than the less-privacy-conscious person in the next cubical.
    Anyone want to join me at the top of the slippery slope?

  14. Caitlin

    We’re having to join you on that slippery slope, Chris. BCBS in Tennessee has presented a similar option through my spouse’s employer, marketed in such an “oh-so-concerned-for-your-health” tone in their materials. At least if our butts are greased with healthy lard rather than processed vegetable oils maybe we’ll hit the bottom of the slippery slope healthier than otherwise…

  15. Dana W

    I am consistently horrified by what my son’s school cafeteria serves to the kids. Carbs galore and lots of chocolate skim milk to wash it all down. But, not to worry! It’s government approved!
    I also pack a lunch for him. It’s no wonder adhd and learning problems are so frequently diagnosed these days. If I ate all that garbage, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate either.

    I’ve joined my daughter for lunch at school (allowed and encouraged by the principal). It was horrifying indeed to see what most kids were eating.

  16. Chris B


    Yeah, I loved how they made sure to note that they will still respect our privacy (HIPPA and all that) and that they are collecting this info just to “help” us. And then they call and interrupt me at work one day so an insurance company nurse can counsel me on current and potential treatment options for the osteoarthritis in my knee.
    “Um, is this required for my insurance?”
    “No, it is just a service we provide.”
    OK, well my doctor and I have things covered, I probably know as much or more about my “condition” as you do, AND I find this call incredibly personally invasive. Goodbye.”

  17. Andrew

    On March 20th next year I’m going to plop myself down in front of the capitol building in Lansing with a grill, plenty of charcoal, and absurd amounts of meat… Kangaroo, pork, beef, chicken, bear, deer, rabbit…

    I’d bet you can turn that into a mass movement. Call it the Million Man Munch.

  18. Lori

    It seems that much of the movement to get government more involved in our diets and employers involved in our health is being wrought by the generation that used to believe in questioning authority and sticking it to The Man. What happened to *that*?

    Believe me, I’ve wondered many times how the big-government supporters from the Sixties generation can still believe they’re anti-authority.

  19. Dan

    A governor quoting the dogma of the Church of the Holy Plant-Based Diet? So much for separation of church & state. 🙂

    Typical government BS. More of the same nonsense that didn’t work before. When I was fat, I knew I was fat and desperately wanted to lose weight. The problem was that I was trying to follow the government’s approach and failing miserably. I got so frustrated that I just gave up. After being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I finally wised up.

    These programs are a waste of money. Like you, I didn’t lack motivation when I was fat. I lacked information.

  20. Auntie M

    The teacher in me just has to weigh in here. I don’t know about other educators, but this is what I do:
    -I teach my state-government-mandated curriculum, which involves content of enormous breadth with no depth, in a strictly regimented period of time punctuated by county-created tests that compare me to other teachers and schools (but they don’t judge us by them, of course), which culminates with a test-company-created multiple-choice assessment. This is exactly like real life, and will completely prepare my students to be critical thinkers who will thrive in the future.
    -I attend multiple bureaucracy-laden meetings because our school will get “help” from the government if we don’t meet No Child Left Behind’s “Adequate Yearly Progress” this spring. You know what Reagan said about the scariest words in English, yes?
    -I spend hours during my planning period as well as outside of my school day planning interesting, thought-provoking lessons in an attempt to engage my completely disengaged learners, e-mailing parents who either don’t care or who care too much, trying to avoid teachers who are having hissy fits about life, the universe, and everything, and listening to other teachers piss and moan about all the mandates we can’t change.
    -I deal with many students who eat poorly, read poorly, write poorly, think poorly, behave poorly, and who are completely certain that they will make tons of money right out of high school because their parents and TV have convinced them that school isn’t important and that they are “special”.

    It seems that I don’t have enough on my plate. I can’t wait to add nutrition education to it. Also, I’ll have plenty of time for this:

    Great … so in addition to brainwashing my children about how FDR’s big-government spending “saved” the U.S. economy, they want to brainwash them about climate change.

    My mom and sister were both teachers, so I understand the complaints about the bureaucracy.

  21. Laurie

    Just to make you laugh and to inject a bit of optimism, I think we’re helping to get the message out about Taubes’ GC,BC and that ‘wheat is murder’. I believe this is percolating outward and upward. I have made several people in my orbit read GC,BC and ‘The Vegetarian Myth’- and those who have have been CHANGED. One friend is an OB-GYN. She doesn’t mainly counsel about nutrition but being a woman women’s doc, she frequently finds herself talking about GC,BC— while she’s doing a certain womanly exam and therefore has the patient’s undivided attention. Because she knows GC,BC is not accessible to all, she gives out a book list and suggests a visit to a book store. She wants them to read a few pages and then to purchase if they like what they see. She also recommends renting “FAT HEAD” and “My Big Fat Diet”.

    In spite of all the dietary nonsense espoused by governments and media outlets, I am in fact quite optimistic. We’re seeing the phenomena described in excellent books like “The Long Tail” and “The Wisdom of Crowds.” The information gatekeepers have lost control because everyone’s jumping over or going around their gates.

  22. Todd S.

    Marco Wanderwitz, a conservative member of parliament for the German state of Saxony, said it is unfair and unsustainable for the taxpayer to carry the entire cost of treating obesity-related illnesses in the public health system.

    “I think that it would be sensible if those who deliberately lead unhealthy lives would be held financially accountable for that,” Wanderwitz said, according to Reuters.

    Of course, the problem is the fat people not paying their fair share. The problem could never be that people are being forced to pay for other people to begin with. I had a conversation with my daughter the other day. She said that she felt since we had to wear seatbelts in a car that motorcycle riders should have to wear helmets (they don’t in Florida). I said, “Wouldn’t it make more sense to say that we don’t have to wear seatbelts in cars? Taking away another person’s freedoms is never the right way to solve your own problems.”

    Yup, it’s amazing how people who resent the costs imposed on them by socialism rarely seem to think the root problem is with socialism.

  23. Laurie D.

    +1 on Auntie M’s comment from another teacher! Great description of what the teaching profession has become.

    Back in the 1970s, we were taught that overpopulation was the world’s most severe problem. All of this nonsense about nutrition seemed to start in the 70s. Sometimes I wonder if all of the governments in the world are lowering the population by recommending food guidelines designed to kill us. I think they would be very happy to have a world of Meme Roths and crazed vegans running the world.

    As a teacher of Anatomy and Biology, I am doing my part to educate students about “the big fat lie.” Hopefully a few of them will go on to the medical professions with some seed of knowledge planted in their brains about nutrition.

    If you’re telling students about the big fat lie, you’ve already implanted a crucial idea: not everything you read in a textbook is true, kids.

  24. Jakounezumi

    Guess there’s certain risk you’ll toss this is the bin. But I’d pay good money to see the face of “Mrs Milton” when someone walked up to her and said “Ello fatso, how’s it hanging?”

    It would be funny. On the other hand, she looks like someone who could throw a decent punch.

  25. Lindy

    Been a fan of your blog for a while now, but never commented until now – this post was wonderful! Sad that that stuff is going on, but hilarious to read – laughed out loud several times.

    I also tell my students about the “big fat lie” (even showed your movie to a class) and it is fascinating to see how shocked they are that government recommendations could be wrong.

    If you let ’em know at a tender young age that not everything government experts say is true, you’re doing them a huge favor.

  26. Auntie M

    Laurie and Lindy, you made my evening! I’m so glad I’m not the only teacher out there quietly bucking the system! I have faith that we can stop the madness.

  27. Alex

    You know, I’m gonna find me a vegan hippie and devour a monster thickburger w/ BACON right in front of him!

    Careful; you could induce cardiac arrest.

  28. Mike

    Here is an statement from the American Diabetes Association website, part of the government who is going to save us all…

    “Americans and Europeans eat too much fat and too little carbohydrate and fiber, and they get too little exercise. Type 2 diabetes is common in people with these habits.”

    Actually, after reading Good Calories Bad Calories, followed by a few of the pro low-carb books or Paleo books, I would think that if this statement were true, we would all be in better health!

    Amazing, isn’t it? You’d think they would ask themselves why we’ve had a surge in diabetes during the decades when Americans cut back on fat and consumed more carbohydrates.

  29. Bullinachinashop

    Laurie’s comment about “My Big Fat Diet” gives me hope for Canada. If the CBC is willing to have a show promoting low carb success, then perhaps our government is willing to change its tune.

    It was definitely a positive step.

  30. Befuddled

    The comments about textbook accuracy sparked a memory from years ago.

    I was once an invited member of a textbook review committee within my public school system. Composed of teachers, a few parents, and some students, the committee was tasked with choosing from among competing textbooks for the one book that would be selected in a given category.

    I remember the review guidelines provided to us by the board of education had nothing to do with technical accuracy. Rather, we were told to judge the textbooks primarily on how fairly they represented gender and race to ensure fairness and equal representation.

    I remember us all laughing as we flipped through the chemistry textbooks, trying to assess what race and gender was represented by black and white photo showing part of a gloved hand holding a beaker. Nonetheless, that was our dictated focus. Such was the concern the board had for technical accuracy. It was as though the school board assumed that if content made its way into the textbook, it had to be accurate.

    I’m afraid that belief is rampant: if it’s in a textbook, it must be true.

  31. Melissa

    (fellow Tennessean here) I knew that the local schools had removed soda and snack machines from the schools but otherwise I had no idea that TN had jumped on the gov’t knows better than you do how to feed your kids bandwagon. That’s what happens when you have a democrat governor I suppose. One raving mad liberal infects the rest of the political animals we elected.

    I have school aged children but they attend a private christian co-op education program. They pack their own lunches and learn at the same time. Novel concept huh?

    My pet peeve, along with the ‘approved breakfast/lunch programs’ is the foodstamp program. Pay attention the next time you see someone using a foodstamp card to pay for their groceries. What is in their cart? Snack Cakes, soda, bread, eggs, bacon, pasta…not the first veggie in sight and look at the person weilding the card…they tend to be obese. I would think that if you’re on the gov’t dole and we’re footing the bill to feed these people then the least they could do is say you can’t purchase the following items…WIC already enforces a better eating regimine wonder why the foodstamp program is so far behind on this? Wonder how many would continue using the foodstamp program if they had to only buy healthy foods? Of course I’m alos on the bandwagon theat you should have to pass a drug test to continue receiving gov’t assistance, but then I tend to be sort of evil like that.

  32. Kate

    I can’t wait until the gumbmint is telling my doctor exactly how to treat all my chronic conditions. Why, I’ll be so healthy at that point, it will put all those doubts about Obamacare to rest.
    (Just let the logic of that statement roll around a bit…)

    The new head of Medicare/Medicaid has already spoken about the need to rely less on physician autonomy and more on standardized protocols.

  33. TonyNZ

    Am I the only one that had a Grammar Grump moment at “Eat Well, Play More Tennessee”

    Is Tennessee a game now?

  34. TonyNZ

    …and then I re-read my comment and had to grump at myself for the lack of a question mark at the end of my question.


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