Wednesday, February 02, 2011

All hail government dietary guidelines!

What Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in this CNSNews article is so alarming on so many levels I'm not sure where to begin.

Let's start with the premise: I wouldn't be healthy if it weren't for the government telling me what to do.

As if no one in the world would be healthy or know how to eat in a manner that contributes, rather than detracts, from health if there weren't dietary guidelines coming from an all-knowing, all-power nanny state!

On Monday, he and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 'unveiled' new dietary guidelines. Here's what he had to say at George Washington University:

“I must admit personally, I had never read the dietary guidelines until I got this job. But I read them in detail. I read all of them and I realized how significantly different my eating habits were from what constituted a healthy pattern. So personally, my life has changed by virtue of these dietary guidelines.”

He could have just as easily - and more honestly - said: "I never read them because they had absolutely no bearing on my life until I got hired to promote them."

These guidelines have been published since 1980.

Oh my! Whatever did we do prior to then???

I was 16 in 1980 and I knew, even then, what constituted healthy eating and what I should and should not put into my mouth. And prior to 1980, we certainly had a vast majority of Americans who knew the same thing. In fact, I'd wager that today most people know what is good for them and what isn't in terms of sustenance. And I'd further wager that nearly all of them don't even know that the government tells us what we *should* eat.

Just recently, I decided to do what Vilsack and his wife are doing - keep track of what I eat. I didn't need a government to help me find out how many calories are in the food I chosen - I just did a simple Google search, found several websites that contain searchable lists and then I bookmarked the one I liked. Every now and then, there's an item they don't list, so I just Google that item and I can usually find multiple sources of the calories in less than two seconds.

And how might people who don't have computers in their homes do the same thing? Well, they can go down to their local tax-payer funded library and either use the free computer there or get a free card and check out a book (for free) that will tell them the same thing.

The government's *guidelines* are a duplication of what already exists and the only reason to follow their instructions rather than any others is because, obviously, the bureaucrats who suck up our tax dollars to tell us these things know so much more than doctors and dietitians and nutritionists. After all - if you can't trust your government, who can you trust?

But the story gets even scarier. Read this portion of the article and pay attention to the mindset:

HHS Secretary Sebelius said if Americans make unhealthy choices, it hurts the country’s prosperity.

“You can’t be educated if you’re sick each and every day; you’re not a good student,” she said.

“You won’t be as productive or as innovative as a working member of this society if your health condition is debilitating so this has a tremendous cost overall on America’s prosperity.”

She later added that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is helping design safer neighborhoods to increase access to healthier foods.

“When you have to walk two miles in some neighborhoods to get fresh produce at the near super market but only a block away it’s easy to get chips or other kinds of high calorie foods, that makes it very difficult to eat nutritious meals,” she said.

“When it’s not safe to play outside or send your children outside, it’s very tough for kids to get the exercise they need so again the Recovery Act is helping neighborhoods and cities invest in ways to make it easier for people to make healthier choices from serving healthier school lunches to designing more walkable neighborhoods."

See? If you don't do as the government orders, the 'nation' is at risk.

Really? If I don't do what I need to do to keep myself healthy, that has no impact on anyone other than myself and, maybe my family if they rely upon my health for their own. The only way my individual health impacts the nation is if someone else has to care for me, either by providing me a house and food if I cannot, or by providing any medical treatment that may be necessary as a result of my choices. The solution to this dilemma of others paying for my bad choices is NOT to begin to control those choices for me, but to eliminate the obligation for others to pay. Simple - but that certainly does not take us down the path of bigger, more powerful government that knows best and wants to control my life.

But look at the logic: you can't be a good student and get an education if you're sick. That's such a crock of lies I don't know where to begin as most children these days aren't getting a good education regardless. Just take a look at any of the indicators and you'll see a majority of students (in urban public schools, at least) are in schools that are failing them - and it has nothing whatsoever to do with a 'sick' child. Besides, the same government using this lie spends billions every year to feed kids in schools - assuming a parental responsibility that engenders a mentality of slavery, with children growing up dependent upon the government for their needs.

Then there is the communistic-like reference to not being a good 'working member of society' if you aren't healthy - as if your only purpose in being is the betterment of society and not your own personal goals or freedom.

I'm reminded so strongly of the communist propaganda:

Young builders of Communism, go forth toward the new heights (achievements) in education and labour.

Value the Bread!

Alcohol - the enemy of the production!

"Cultivate vegetables!"

"Come comrade, join us in the collective farm!"

Civilized life - productive work

What's next? A Ministry of Plenty (Miniplenty) to properly dispense what we should be eating?

But that's not all - government's failed stimulus, also known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is our saving grace. Why, if it weren't for ARRA and the benevolent government politicians you might have to walk two miles to a grocery store! Never mind the fact that walking two miles is good for you and is something you should do on regular basis anyway, especially if a more healthier you is a goal.

No, according to Sec. Sebelius, you're just too darn stupid and lazy and would rather buy junk food at the local carryout.

So that's why these new guidelines are so important. Now that they've been issued all these stupid, lazy people she's referring to will actually eat better! Besides, with all that ARRA stimulus money, you stupid, lazy, unhealthy people will now have walkable neighborhoods and healthy food choices on every corner!

Yeah, right!

Do you think she's ever paid attention to all the anecdotal (and documented) stories of people on food stamps - sorry, it's called SNAP now because that's less stigmatizing - who buy chips and pop and ice cream and ignore fruits and vegetables? If she were to actually gather the information about what people were buying with 'other people's money' would she realize that she's fighting a losing battle and the only way to actually accomplish the goal would be to completely take over and just provide the meals she approves of to everyone in the country?

Perhaps that's the next step, especially with Obamacare leading to the anti-logic that now that the government is paying for your medical treatment it can dictate your behavior to ensure health.

We're already on the slippery slope, as I've previously written:

These people who seek to control us know that they really can't control our eating or our choices. So, in the plan detailed in the article, they're going to control the products we purchase by regulating what food manufacturers can and cannot do within the free market.

I know how I'll respond: I won't purchase those products. And if all product choices have new regulations that cut out something I like, I'll just add it after the fact.

I am not a child whose eating habits need to be regulated by people who think they know better than me. I have a doctor whose opinion I trust infinitely more than some bureaucrat in Washington - or some epidemiologist who gets appointed to serve on some panel.

I am a free individual - or so I thought - who is responsible for myself and willing to abide by the consequences if I choose to eat salt - or any other product some do-gooders think I should avoid.

And this sentiment of freedom - liberty to live a life of one's own choosing - is what led our founders to establish this great nation. I cannot help but believe they would be appalled at what we have become.

Can you imagine how much it cost to do these stupid, one-size-fits all-ignore-the-individual-health-conditions-of-a-person guidelines? How many millions are spent for the government to duplicate what is already available for free simply by looking? And what were our representatives in Congress thinking when they passed the law that requires these to be done???

And the absolutely worst part of the whole thing is that the *guidelines* are wrong! Or rather - they've changed so dramatically over time that following them could be worse than not. According to this history of the food pyramid, the first USDA guide, issued in 1917, emphasized five groups:

1.milk and meat
3.vegetables and fruit
4.fats and fatty foods
5.sugars and sugary foods.

In 1946, it was seven groups:

1.Milk and milk products
2.Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, peas and nuts
3.Bread, flour and cereals
4.Leafy green and yellow vegetables
5.Potatoes and sweet potatoes
6.Citrus, tomato, cabbage, salad greens
7.Butter, fortified margarine

By 1956, it down to four basic groups:

3.Fruits and vegetables
4.Grain products

In 1977, it was recommended "that all Americans reduce their fat, saturated fat and cholesterol consumption, and increase their carbohydrate consumption to 55-60% of daily calories." By the 1990s, carbs were out and, today, more fish and fruit are the focus.

Granted, all this is based upon new knowledge and science, but since when has the government ever been able to keep up with what's going on in the free market or been on the cutting edge? As I wrote earlier, the more accurate and timely information is readily available and it doesn't require a bureaucrat to dispense.

What a utter waste - at a time when the nation is broke. And what a complete disregard for the limited powers our Constitution dictates for the federal government.


Timothy W Higgins said...


What more can we expect from a man who has decided he knows best how many bakes sales a public school can has and what items they can sell at them to raise money for worthy efforts.

I suppose we will now be at the mercy of whatever the current fad is in healthy diets, with changes coming every 6-12 months. Of course this will probably require more govt scientists to maintain an ongoing study of the situation.

One cannot help but hearken back to the Woody Allen movie "Sleeper", as they describe a future in which scientists have finally discovered that a truly healthy diet includes lots of red meat and chocolate (though not necessarily in the same dish).

Kadim said...

One thing that is rather exciting on this front is that there is a rather clever new scoring system designed by a private company to provide this type of information, right at the supermarket as you're looking at food items.

Meijer is adopting it.

I actually believe that the government will piggyback on this system someday. Say, for instance, assessing a tax on food with a score under X.

Maggie Thurber said...

Kadim - I like the system, but think your idea that government will tax based upon it is pretty scary....

Google Analytics Alternative