Government Fat Police flexing their muscles

With increasing frequency, governments at all levels are telling us what we can and cannot put into our bodies — either by banning or heavily regulating particular substances. In fact, cities across the United States have launched a new offensive in the war on allegedly unhealthy food by creating their own “fat police.”

The City of Baltimore, for example, enacted a law banning trans fats that took effect in September 2009. The sponsor of the measure claims the law was essential in order to deal with the problem of childhood obesity. Restaurants discovered to be in violation of the ban receive a warning after their first offense. Repeat offenders are fined $100; and recidivist eateries can be closed. No restaurants had received a citation…until last week.

A restaurant, ironically named “Healthy Choice,” dared to cross Baltimore’s fat police by using a margarine that contained 3 grams of trans fat, as calculated by the city’s fat police.  When a follow up inspection by the inspectors discovered the restaurant had reduced its use of trans fats, but not by enough to meet the government’s mandate, the owner of the eatery was fined.

The restaurant now is complying with the regulations by using a more expensive, but less flavorful, margarine that contains less than the .5 grams allowed under the law. The owner had been warned that a third violation could result in the closing of his business.

Healthy Choice restaurant in Baltimore, USA, presumably is patronized by consenting adults who chose to eat there because they enjoyed the food and the service; notwithstanding the food might be a bit fattening.  This, of course, is of little concern to the city’s health inspectors; nor is the livelihood of the owner, who states that business at his restaurant already is down by a third thanks to the negative publicity he has received.

Is it not enough to force restaurants to provide nutritional information to customers, as many are now required to do?  Must government be permitted to use its police power to force business owners to serve only those foods deemed appropriate by its agents, regardless of what adult consumers want to eat?

Nanny-statists from Baltimore to New York City may claim that such regulations are necessary “for the children,” but what this is really about is control — controlling the adults, not the children. And if the authorities have to put a few entrepreneurs out of business to make their point; well, that’s just part of the price we pay for a government-defined “healthy” lifestyle.

42 comments Add your comment

skydog

November 5th, 2010
6:14 am

Damn Right Bob!

If McDonalds wants to put asbestos filler in the burgers they should be allowed.
Asbestos ain`t in the constitution.

Lynn43

November 5th, 2010
6:30 am

Is this city run by Republicans?

deborahinAthens

November 5th, 2010
6:32 am

Food without salt and butter just doesn’t taste as good. When people eat out, one would assume they know that they aren’t getting healthy food. If I want to cut back, I stay home and eat salad and yogurt. Bloomberg wants to “outlaw” salt in NYC, San Francisco wants to keep toys out of Happy Meals. The irony of all of this overkill? The average lifespan for a woman in 2010 in this country is 84 years. For a man it is 82. Just three generations ago, the average lifespan was 45 years. A lot of our health “problems” come from living so long. I love it when these 70-80 year old lung cancer patients sue tobacco companies for dying of cancer. How long did they expect to live? Something has to kill you, sooner or later–ain’t none of us getting out of this alive! I prefer to enjoy life. I raise my cup of pumpkin latte (510 calories) to you, Bob Barr, and tonight, I’m having cheesecake for dessert! I’ll walk an extra mile tomorrow.

zeke

November 5th, 2010
6:32 am

Yes this is a mockery of our Constitution and freedoms guaranteed by it! First the ban on smoking although there is no credible evidence that second hand smoke hurts anyone! Then an assault on sugar in foods and drinks! Now an assault on the freedom to eat as we like! You fools who pushed and supported the smoking bans will now have to cry and complain when hamburgers, hot dogs and Coke are banned!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Karl Marx

November 5th, 2010
6:35 am

Give me a break skydog, you are an idiot. According to your logic you think Mr.Barr is advocating putting rat poison in food. If someone wants to eat something with a little more “fat” content it is not and should not be the business of the government. go crawl back under your rock.

Borat

November 5th, 2010
6:44 am

The food police need to spend more time making sure that restaurants are and clean and safe and leave it up to the fat slobs to worry about what they put down their gullet.

zeke

November 5th, 2010
6:55 am

zeke

November 5th, 2010
6:58 am

Lynn43, those in Baltimore and San Francisco are rabid left wing socialist communist democrats! And in NY, Bloomberg is a republican in name only, a rino, who thinks he has the answer for everyone, since we are not intelligent enough to fend for ourselves!

Ragnar Danneskjöld

November 5th, 2010
7:09 am

Voters get the governments they deserve, except in states like Washington and Connecticut, where fraud is the more significant factor.

Nono

November 5th, 2010
7:26 am

34 percent of Americans are obese right now. An additional 34 percent of Americans are overweight. Chronic, PREVENTABLE disease costs billions in healthcare costs in this country. Removing trans fats from foods consumed in restaurants is just one small, easy way to remove a harmful substance from our diets. No one is saying you can’t eat at these restaurants – all the government is doing is trying to make the food you eat when you go there less bad for you. And let me remind you that government regulation over the years has saved millions of lives – seat belts and standardized traffic regulations, bike helmets, removal of lead from paint and other products, and removal of asbestos from various building materials have prevented premature deaths from traumatic injuries and debilitating illnesses. This is NO different. So pick a different ax to grind, Bob. I never thought I’d see the day when people were fighting efforts to help them live longer, healthier lives by taking out a harmful food ingredient that does not exist in nature, but has to be artificially synthesized to be produced. It’s just mind boggling.

scott

November 5th, 2010
7:46 am

Bob –
The problem is that too many people are too ignorant to make the right food choices. Get it?

skydog

November 5th, 2010
7:50 am

You have karl marx as a nickname and I`m the idiot? OK bubba, now back to starching your flag shirt.

Rod

November 5th, 2010
7:58 am

I can support a law that requires restaurants to reveal the information about each of their dishes (calories, transfat, etc), but leave it at that. If I see that this dish is high in transfat and I eat it anyway, then that’s my choice.

Woof Woof

November 5th, 2010
7:59 am

Hey skydog, that’s beside the point.

You’re still an idiot.

Grits

November 5th, 2010
8:02 am

That idiotic law should be challanged in court.

carlosgvv

November 5th, 2010
8:04 am

Government action against Fast Food and other restaurants has been going on for some time now. Very little has been publicly heard from the politicans. This tells me that we are not getting all of the story. The politicans are hiding something from us on this one but I don’t know what it is.

JacobE

November 5th, 2010
8:08 am

Skydog, how could you say that!? That’s awful!

Ezra

November 5th, 2010
8:17 am

When are the democrats going to take back their party from the progressive whacko left?

Northern Songs LTD

November 5th, 2010
8:32 am

Nono and the rest of you who believe the government knows best – it’s not the government’s job to tell me what i can and cannot eat, and threatening to close a business is the namnny state at it’s worst. If you want to educate me, and tell me what may or may not be harmful, fine. But don’t legislate my choices.

Roekest

November 5th, 2010
8:36 am

These “fat laws” will never stand up in the Supreme Court. Any restaurant with some stones should sue the city and drive this case to the high court.

Buzz G

November 5th, 2010
8:39 am

All you people who never stood up for the rights of smokers, you have no right to complain when they come to take away your sugar, your salt, your light bulbs, your automobile, your guns, your children, your air conditioning and your pay check.

Buzz G

November 5th, 2010
8:43 am

Nono is the most dangerous guy around. He thinks he has the right to tell you how to live your life. And he is not reluctant to use the police power of government to force you to do what he thinks is good for you. This man is deranged and should not be allowed in polite society.

Northern Songs LTD

November 5th, 2010
8:49 am

ooops – of course I meant “nanny” state. i need caffeine and a smoke…

Ezra

November 5th, 2010
8:51 am

Nono

November 5th, 2010
7:26 am
I dont live my life to live longer. How dare you intefere with my life liberty and pursuit of happiness.

[...] Nanny-statists from Baltimore to New York City may claim that such regulations are necessary “for the children,” but what this is really about is control — controlling the adults, not the children. And if the authorities have to put a few entrepreneurs out of business to make their point; well, that’s just part of the price we pay for a government-defined “healthy” lifestyle.ent Fat Police flexing their muscles | The Barr Code. [...]

Ezra

November 5th, 2010
8:53 am

Nono:
I dont live my life to live longer! How dare you and your ilk intefere with my life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

furious_styles

November 5th, 2010
8:58 am

You can’t have it both ways, sure gov’t shouldn’t be telling you what to eat, much less stand over the restaurants but then when everyone becomes a diabetic and hypertensive complain about health care costs. One thing leads to another. Then again you still have somebody telling you that you can’t get alcohol on Sunday, BUT you can get cigarettes, tobacco products and pornography instead. LOLx2

Willy Do It?

November 5th, 2010
9:06 am

Help me Mr. Government Man!! I’m sooooo fat!
Taco Bell did this to me!! They put transfat in my 6 soft tacos!!

Brannon

November 5th, 2010
11:09 am

The problem isn’t with the food. It’s that our lifestyles have become much more sedentary than in the past. When our grandparents worked all day doing manual labor or farming, they could eat those big “country breakfasts” and not worry. Unfortunately, we spend most of our time sitting in an office and the kids today spend more time in front of computers/video games than out running around in the yard. THAT’S why we have an obesity problem…

Dunkin Man

November 5th, 2010
1:41 pm

I just got a ticket for giving cream to my patrons for their coffee and donuts. The man said when he comes back next time, if I have anything else but skim milk to go with the coffee and donuts, he is shutting me down.

Jefferson

November 5th, 2010
2:21 pm

Tax Cokes and hot dogs, let everyone pay !!

Don Kissick

November 5th, 2010
3:21 pm

Nono,

Can you tell us where does the government’s authority end? Is it when we are told working in certain industries, engaging in religious study, voicing a dissenting opinion, or ownership of a firearm are all deemed unhealthy?

We live in a society surrounded by unhealthy choices because we have allowed our society to get that way. It is up to us as individuals to educate ourselves on healthier alternatives. The government is more driven by special interest money than the corporate world is motivated by easy profit. Is that who we want to trust with making our world a safer and healthier one in which to live?

I make those choices when I can by CHOOSING to shop at stores like Trader Joe’s whenever possible because I know their products typically are better for me. Unfortunately, I tend to CHOOSE to spend too much at my computer. Do you propose government guidelines on limiting our online time?

Also, what happened to the mantra of “keep your laws of my body”?! I find it convenient that someone who leans to the left feels it’s necessary to pick and choose when humanity’s free will must be respected.

Prohibition Does Not Work.

November 5th, 2010
4:34 pm

Our society is just about to get a HELLUVA LOT MEANER. Here is the problem: Estimates vary but the general consensus is that about 20% of every health care dollar is a result of obesity, and that almost 1/3 of adults are obese. That means that those of us that pay taxes (the top 50% of wage earners) will soon be subsidizing the health care of a lot of obese people. Screw that! We are going to get a lot meaner as a society and have to start calling out the FAT ASSES. If we cant force the FAT ASSES to change their life style, they will break out national budget. They will literally eat us into bankruptcy. Further, lets look at a breakdown of the FAT ASSES by race

# The obesity prevalence ranged from 19.1% for men and women aged 18–29 years to 31.7% and 30.2%, respectively, for men and women aged 50–59 years.
# By race/ethnicity and sex the obesity prevalence was highest for non-Hispanic black women (39.0%) followed by non-Hispanic black men (32.1%).
# The obesity prevalence was higher in the South (27.3%) and Midwest (26.5%) and lower in the Northeast (24.4%) and West (23.1%).

Thus, the top half of earners will be subsidizing the bottom half of earners, and the thin will be subsidizing the FAT (i.e. thin white Northerners and Westerners will be subsidizing FAT black southerners. ).

These united states are about to get a whole lot meaner unless a certain segment of our population loses the extra weight.

ATF

November 5th, 2010
5:08 pm

I am all for there being disclosure of fat, salt, MSG, peanuts, and a few other food additives, but not forbidding any of them.

I also think we should decriminalize pot and all psychodelic/psychotrophic mind altering drugs. Alcohol sales on any day of the week and any time of the day are also no ones business but the buyer’s and seller’s.

But then, we should tax smoking, mind altering drugs, alcohol sales, and sugary soft drinks heavily.

NPR

November 5th, 2010
6:18 pm

This is why some parts of Sharia Law make sense: like the rule, “no Fatah chicks”. If we are going to have government funded healthcare then we have to let the government dictate the ingredients in our happy meals.

It’s just the way it is. If you don’t like it, then too bad. Go live in asia where everybody starves to death.

Eric

November 5th, 2010
8:52 pm

Great article, once again. Please keep on writing, Mr. Barr.

bob

November 6th, 2010
8:20 am

skydog, you are an idiot.

Tony

November 6th, 2010
8:30 am

The solution to this problem is for those restauranteurs to move their business out of said cities en masse. Then the “fat police” will have no one to prosecute and they can join the ranks of the unemployed. The socialists who run said municipalities will also lose the tax revenue. The only thing they understand is money….when it goes, they go.

Dr. Pangloss

November 6th, 2010
8:51 am

Dang! I thought Bob was going to get through a whole column without saying “nanny state.”

In On Liberty John Stuart Mill argues that adults who are compos mentis should be able to destroy themselves if they want to, but his libertarian principles didn’t apply to children, crazy people, idiots or barbarians.

We all like to eat out; some people have to because they have traveling jobs.

Those who want to be healthy don’t want to be dragged down by those who have grossly unhealthy habits.

The Constitution doesn’t say anything about the people’s right to be stupid.

rene

November 6th, 2010
10:56 am

i bet the constitution does not guarantee that your toilet should flush but, you kinda like when it does…

nelson

November 6th, 2010
11:14 am

Under the 14th Amendment it was generally conceded that states could exercise the power to protect the public health. However, it should have been voted on by the citizens of Baltimore as to whether they wanted trans fats in restaurants limited. How else can the “creeping progressive nanny statism” be thwarted? This is government, of the people, by the people and for the people. The all encompassing power of the state should be challenged. The alternative is complete government intervention. Now, all of that being said, the latest government initiative is free cell phones for all low income families. I would like to vote on that. A cell phone like everything else in life should be the result of work and initiative.

Dr. Pangloss

November 6th, 2010
3:40 pm

Will this myth about free cell phones supplied by the government never die?

From http://factcheck.org/2009/10/the-obama-phone/

Q: Has the Obama administration started a program to use “taxpayer money” to give free cell phones to welfare recipients?
A: No. Low-income households have been eligible for discounted telephone service for more than a decade. But the program is funded by telecom companies, not by taxes, and the president has nothing to do with it.

Get it? It’s private philanthropy. It’s commendable if the phone companies decide to be public-spirited this way.