April 20 2011
By Matthew Continetti Continetti is guest-blogging for The Post.
It wasn't until I read author Jen Singer's Wall Street Journal op-ed today that I learned my old school district of Fairfax County, Va., had banned chocolate milk from its cafeteria menu. Like anybody who enjoyed chocolate milk as a child, I'm outraged. The good news is that this month the county bowed to pressure and reinstated chocolate milk, albeit in a reduced-fat form. As Singer points out, getting rid of chocolate milk doesn't mean students will opt for 2 percent or skim. It means they won't drink milk at all.
Julie Gunlock, a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum, had an informative article in the Winter 2011 issue of National Affairs with the headline, "Children, Parents, and Obesity." As much as I enjoyed the piece when I first read it, I had some misgivings. Gunlock concludes that the way to curb childhood obesity is by "fostering, calling upon, and trusting in the character and sense of responsibility of individual citizens." Easier said than done!
There's no denying American waistlines are growing. And encouraging kids to exercise does not herald the end of the Constitution. The government has to raise revenue somehow, so (in my opinion) taxes on cigarettes and soda aren't the worst things in the world. Heck, take the snack machines out of high schools if necessary. There's no natural right to purchasing a bag of Doritos during study hall.
But you've got to draw the line somewhere. And for me that line is when the government bans food and drink because a few people have no self-control. Think of all the millions of Americans who've enjoyed chocolate milk as children (or adults) and never needed to audition for "The Biggest Loser." Why should they be denied?
In light of the chocolate milk controversy, I may have to reexamine my attitude toward government involvement in our diets. After all: Give the do-gooders an inch, and they will take a mile. Such is life in our implacable nanny state.