If you give your children Twinkies, you may be a child abuser

At least in Puerto Rico where Senator Gilbert Rodriguez Valle has introduced legislation that would send social workers to the homes of families whose children have been "identified as obese" in the public schools. The parents will have one year to show "improvement" or else they will be fined $100.

Lenore Skeasy and Paul Best at REASON magazine explain why this assault on freedom is also a poor way to improve health:

This law ignores the fact that while moms and dads play a big role in their kid’s eating habits, so do a plateful of other factors, including education, friends, social norms, the food that's available, and, of course, genes. There's a cornucopia of forces at work in this complex problem, and no simple solution exists—especially not one handed down by an overreaching government.

Dr. Ricardo Fontanet, the president of Puerto Rico's chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, highlighted this oversimplified take on obesity, telling The Guardian: "They’re not involving pediatricians, nutritionists, dieticians, the people who prepare the lunches in schools, in any of this." Because it's so much simpler to just blame the parents.

free-range-kidsThe futility of trying to legislate away obesity is well documented. Denmark was one of the first countries to take a stab at this when it enacted a tax on foods containing more than 2.3 percent saturated fat in 2011. Authorities eventually realized that all the law did was inflate food prices, rather than deflating waistlines. They abolished the tax after just a year and cancelled their next plan: a tax on sugary foods.

But Puerto Rico’s proposed law is much more sinister. Not only does it misdiagnose the root of the epidemic, it tells parents that the government is sitting at their kitchen table, watching every forkful. One extra helping of mofongo and parents are fonged.

Despite the evidence that "fat taxes" are ineffective, there are still influential voices pushing for increasing taxes and regulations on the American people in order to address the "obesity crisis."

For example, Johnathan "Obamacare passed because of the stupidly of the American people" Gruber advocates for a "body weight" tax (hat/tip The Daily Caller):

“Ultimately, what may be needed to address the obesity problem are direct taxes on body weight,” Gruber wrote in an essay for the National Institute for Health Care Management in April 2010, just months after helping design Obamacare with the president in the Oval Office and during the period in which he was under contract as an Obama administration consultant.

Gruber acknowledges that it is unlikely Congress would pass a "body fat" tax, however, he thinks the government is imposing a form of fat tax thanks to Obamacare.....

While it is hard to conceive of this approach being a common public policy tool in the near term, such taxation may be happening indirectly through health insurance surcharges,” he wrote. “Currently, employers may charge up to 20 percent higher health insurance premiums for employees who fail to meet certain health-related standards, such as attaining a healthy BMI.”

“The new health reform legislation increases this differential to 30 percent, with the possibility of rising to 50 percent. Results of programs that use differential premiums to impose direct financial penalties for obesity will bear watching in the future.”

If Gruber and his ilk truly wanted to help address the obesity crises, they would help repeal those government policies that promote unhealthy eating habits.

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