I’ve come up with an idea to solve the nation’s obesity issue: outlaw all newspapers and magazines, including their online versions.
As the experts behind Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign have informed us, too many Americans are fat because they spend too much time just sitting around — and let’s face it, reading newspapers and magazines is a sedentary pursuit. Those greedy publishers, thinking of nothing but their own profits, are encouraging people to sit on their fat butts when they should be outside taking a walk or playing with their kids.
Predictably, the publishers will condemn my plan and insist that I haven’t produced any proof whatsoever that taking away newspapers and magazines will solve the obesity problem. That may be true, but any measure that incentivizes consumers to spend less time reading and more time moving can only help.
I came up with my plan while reading an online article from TIME magazine explaining how some nanny-state politicians in New York City plan to follow the lead of nanny-state politicians in San Francisco by banning Happy Meal toys. (I was, of course, jogging in place while reading the article, but I know better than most magazine readers.)
Well actually, they’re not banning all Happy Meal toys — only toys accompanying Happy Meals that don’t meet with the nanny-state politicians’ approval:
New York City Council member Leroy G. Comrie Jr. of Queens is leading the charge to ban kid-friendly toys from any fast-food meal that doesn’t meet certain nutritional standards, arguing that the plastic playthings serve to reward children for making poor food choices and undermine parents’ attempts to steer kids toward healthful options.
Mr. Comrie’s bill, which he is to introduce in the City Council on Wednesday, would restrict toys to meals that contain fewer than 500 calories and 600 milligrams of sodium, and in which less than 35 percent of the calories come from fat (making exceptions for nuts, seeds, peanut butter or other nut-based butters). In addition, the meal would have to contain a half a cup of fruit or vegetables or one serving of whole-grain products.
Awesome. Fabulous. Terrific. Let’s use the coercive power of government to remove more brain-building saturated fat from Happy Meals and replace them with more gluten and lectins — and of course, some vegetables the kids can enjoy throwing in the garbage.
As a parent, I still haven’t figured out how including a toy with a Happy Meal undermines my attempts to steer my kids toward healthful options. When my girls whine for a treat I don’t think they should have, I employ a technique passed down from my grandparents, to my parents, to me: I say no. I thought that’s what most parents do. But apparently I was wrong about that:
“I think it’s important to find a way to make a healthy lifestyle palatable and exciting,” Comrie told the New York Times’ City Room blog, acknowledging that he was motivated to write the bill out of guilt for “grabbing Happy Meals” for his own kids.
Ah, I see. Mr. Comrie wasn’t intelligent or disciplined enough to make smart choices for his own kids, so naturally this qualifies him to make decisions for mine. Clearly the best way to prevent McDonald’s from undermining my parental authority is to have the government beat them to it. Please, Mr. Comrie, stop me before I engage in another voluntary exchange.
The proposed law is a tribute to the idiocy of nanny-state politicians, but the article itself is also a tribute to the idiocy of the rah-rah journalists who cheer them on. As evidence, I present these closing sentences:
Predictably, McDonald’s condemned the proposed measure. An executive for the company’s New York region said: “Taking away toys from kids’ meals won’t solve childhood obesity.”
That may be true, but any measure that incentivizes food makers to offer healthier options for consumers can only help.
Got that? Taking away toys may not solve childhood obesity, but it can only help. That’s all you have to say to convince a rah-rah journalist that restricting freedom in a supposedly free country is a good idea: By gosh, it might just help … even if it probably won’t.
Outlawing newspapers and magazines may not make people leaner, that’s true … but anything that incentivizes them to be more active can only help. Let’s get ‘er done!
While reading the article (and trying very hard not to bang my head on my desk), I followed a link to another article about a new report that ranks the nation’s counties in terms of health. Here are some choice paragraphs:
A comprehensive survey of overall health county-by-county in the U.S. confirms a few things we already know to be true: being poor is bad for your health. So is having low education, not having a job and having less access to grocery stores and farmer’s markets for fresh food.
The County Health Rankings report, available online, ranks the health of more than 3,000 counties based on a wide variety of social, physical and environmental measures including but not limited to: adult smoking and obesity, premature death, numbers of uninsured, violent crime, car accident deaths, single parenthood, mammography screening rate, sexually transmitted disease, air pollution, numbers of low-birthweight babies born, income and education.
“It’s hard to lead a healthy life if you don’t live in a healthy community,” Risa Lavizzo-Mourey, president and CEO of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), which collaborated with the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute on the report, said in a statement. “We hope that policymakers, businesses, educators, public health departments and community residents will use the Rankings to develop solutions to help people live healthier lives.”
Oh, I see … people engage in unhealthy behaviors because they live in unhealthy communities. Glad we got the cause and effect straightened out. Now the policymakers and public-health departments can jump in there and develop solutions to help people live healthier lives. Maybe they’ll start by outlawing Happy Meal toys.
Out of curiosity, I followed the links to the county-by-county rankings in California and Tennessee. In California, we lived in Los Angeles County, which is ranked number 26 out of 56 in the state. Well, that explains a lot … I still have painful memories of my mediocre health back then. Fortunately, we now live in Williamson County, which is ranked number 1 out of 95 counties in Tennessee. Man, has my health ever improved. As soon as we moved here, I started adopting the healthy habits of my new neighbors.
Strangely, though, there’s no shortage of McDonald’s restaurants around here that sell Happy Meals. We’d better do something about that. I’d hate to lose our number 1 ranking.
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