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Fat bureaucracy won’t trickle down to Californians

Legislators in Sacramento are pushing four new laws that would mandate California restaurant chains and grocery stores to reveal nutrition information immediately and ban all trans fats by 2009. Legislators believe they are fighting the obesity epidemic, but they are also expanding a government that is already overweight.

The current obsession with obesity is driven by studies, such as the recent report by the nonprofit California Center for Public Health Advocacy, which found that California has an average of 4.18 times as many fast-food restaurants and convenience stores as supermarkets and produce vendors. San Bernardino County was found to have the worst ratio; 5.72 to one junk-food to healthy-food venues.

The study’s authors admit their findings are not necessarily associated with adverse health in California, but they still necessitate a “healthy food environment” where healthy choices can be “readily identified and easily purchased.” CCPHA authors recommend that federal, state and local policy makers expand government programs to make fruits and vegetables more affordable, mandate that restaurants post nutrition information, and set limitations on the number of fast-food restaurants in the state.

The ensuing proposals in California, and at least 13 other states according tothe National Restaurant Association, follow the recent New York City ban on trans fats. Trans fats found in processed food are considered unhealthy because they raise bad cholesterol (LDL) in our bodies, and lower good cholesterol (HDL). Saturated fats raise both types of cholesterol.

The proposals, however, ignore established evidence that food companies have used partially hydrogenated fats since the 1920s, but heart disease has decreased by 60 percent in the United States since 1950.

The owner of BJ’s Kountry Kitchen recently told Sacramento Bee, “I think people, while they might not know the exact content [of their food], they know that a salad has less calories typically than a cheeseburger.”

This is true. Public policy should value, not dismiss individual will and knowledge. But the authors of the CCPHA study claim the following: “Looking more deeply at the origins of obesity


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