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June 19 2015

Policy Focus: Unhealthy Consequences of Government Nutrition Initiatives

Julie Gunlock

Government is increasingly meddling in American food manufacturing and consumption. Many accept these measures as harmless: what’s the matter with government nudging people to eat healthier?

Here is the problem: these initiatives come at a high cost in terms of higher food prices, in wasted tax dollars, and even—ironically—to our health. Taxes on specific products have been shown to fail, as people substitute equally unhealthy choices for those subject to the tax. Menu labeling requirements and marketing restrictions also fail to change consumer behavior, but increase costs and can drive small food providers out of business. Efforts to label “organic” products create the false sense that these items are somehow healthier, when all scientific evidence shows no health difference between organic and conventionally grown (or genetically modified) products. This can distract from the real need to make better food choices (more proteins and vegetables) regardless of how they are produced.

Government dietary guidance on salt, meat, and carbohydrates has been unreliable at best, and could have contributed to our growing obesity problem. Government feeding programs based on this guidance result in tremendous waste and could be leading to worse nutrition for many students.

Government should get out of the diet business. Their efforts have destroyed jobs, discouraged innovation, and lead to higher prices, all without yielding any recognizable health benefits. Americans should be trusted to decide what to eat on their own.

Click here to continue reading this 6-page policy focus in PDF. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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