The Relative Comment

soothing waves of relativity

“Get off our back”, we can eat what we want

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Relative to:  Sarah Palin’s criticism of Michelle Obama, over the First Lady’s Anti-Obesity Campaign and school nutrition rules.

To start: This argument wants to be over the issue of the US becoming a “nanny state,” in which Americans lose the right to eat the “food” that they choose, despite eating very little food. I must say, I don’t want a nanny state. I understand that fear, and I get it. It is not really over “food”, and what “foods” or  foods one should eat.  It seems to me, the issue is about why so many people need that nanny in the first place. Sometimes, people need a nanny.

How can we have an argument about obesity? Obesity is a problem. An epidemic. This isn’t news, nor is it in any way disputable. It  causes diabetes, heart disease, strokes, Cancer, etc. etc. etc. (This is such obvious news, it doesn’t even deserve a link (here’s a link)). Children are becoming obese far too frequently for good-conscience adults to ignore. Remember adult onset diabetes? It doesn’t exist anymore, because it has become Type II diabetes. Adult onset implies it is an adult problem. Obesity ought be opposed. But we are not a nanny state. If you are an adult and want to be eat “foods” that directly lead to obesity (I recognize not all obesity issues result from lifestyle choices, that genetics and other factors exist) the government won’t stop you. It’s your right.

The question that has brought me to writing this post then, is why anyone would oppose a healthy foods initiative in school, for school children, for individuals who eat only what they are provided , and many of whom eat very very poorly. Do we really think that providing children with food, not “food”, is a symbol of a deteriorating state? Adults can eat what they want, but can they feed anything they want to their children? Knowing that childhood obesity is already a severe, and growing, problem in the United States? Sometimes folks need a nanny. Remember the story of that child who was named Adolf Hitler and was subsequently taken from his parents?  It turns out they weren’t fit to raise their children. Is that better or worse than providing a child with a lifetime of health issues and likely an early death? These are the stakes of obesity in the US. And it’s a huge problem, involving poverty issues, racial issues, education, access, etc. etc. etc. But one place that actual change can be made is in school cafeterias, where kids go almost everyday, to simply eat.

So, Sarah Palin, I get it. You want the government to stay out of your business. You’re running for president. You can eat all the ‘smores on your television show that you want, and criticize Michelle Obama for her healthy food programs, and deride her socialist nanny state tendencies. But there is nothing to oppose in supporting a healthy diet *and lifestyle* for children.

UPDATE: In a NY Times editorial today, The Can’t Do Nation, Timothy Egan writes the following: What’s wimpy is Sarah Palin equating Nanny State intolerance withMichelle Obama’s campaign to get children to exercise more and improve their diets. Eat smores, Palin implored, as a patriotic act of defiance to Big Government. This assertion is an affront to every genuine act of political disobedience, let alone the epidemic of childhood obesity.


Written by Christopher ZF

December 30, 2010 at 12:28

Posted in food

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