Massachusetts recently passed a law banning all sorts of foods that aren’t considered “nutritional” from being sold, given out, or exchanged starting from 30 minutes before the school day to 30 minutes after the end of the day. The law’s proponents cite the rising child obesity statistics, arguing that this law promotes healthiness: “This is a major public health problem and these kids deserve a chance at a good, long healthy life,” says Sen. Susan Fargo (D-MA).
At first glance, the law seems like a good way to solve a national problem. However, there are a number of issues with this law that must be considered again. Check out some of the biggest criticisms…
Perhaps one of the biggest issues with the law is the curtailing of freedom. Where in the Constitution does the government have a right to control what foods are exchanged in any event associated with a school? Sure, the Preamble says “promote the general welfare”, but I associate “promoting welfare” with government programs advocating healthy eating. (i.e. Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign) This law does more than “promote the general welfare” in my opinion. It attempts to force and control the “general welfare” by deciding what is healthy and what is not.
The Massachusetts law is not an isolated incident. The federal government has sponsored numerous laws regulating and promoting nutrition. The FDA requires specific nutrition labeling standards, and ObamaCare included new requirements for all vending machines and restaurants with over 20 locations to post calorie content information on menus and menu boards.
The biggest question, in my opinion, is not related to the government’s right to control whether schools have bake sales. I do not think the government has that right, but I could see someone arguing the fact that public schools are under the government’s control. The more pressing issue to me is assuming that obesity is a problem of oppression.
When Sen. Fargo said, “these kids deserve a chance at a good, long healthy life,” she is implying that these kids had “no chance”. She is arguing that the reason so many kids are obese is not because of their choices or their parents’ decisions. She is arguing that bake sales, candy, soda machines, and “donut days” at schools are providing an environment where kids “don’t have a chance at a healthy life.” In effect, she argues that it is the fault of these bake sales that kids are obese. I disagree. Regardless of the atmosphere, kids are still able to choose what they eat.
In my opinion, there will always be temptations. “Junk food” will never go away. I believe the role of government is to encourage parents to teach valuable lessons (such as avoiding these foods), rather than pointlessly attempting to eliminate all the temptations in the country.
What do you think? Does this help solve childhood obesity? Does the government have the right to make this law?