Dan Lieberman, writing in the New York Times, supports the Bloomburg soda ban with a call for additional regulations banning: “Evolution’s Sweet Tooth”.
We humans did not evolve to eat healthily and go to the gym; until recently, we didnt have to make such choices. But we did evolve to cooperate to help one another survive and thrive. Circumstances have changed, but we still need one anothers help as much as we ever did. For this reason, we need government on our side, not on the side of those who wish to make money by stoking our cravings and profiting from them. We have evolved to need coercion.
“We have evolved to need coercion?!”
Evolution has a role in the science of obesity. It’s undeniable that our evolved preferences can be maladaptive in today’s industrialized food environment.
But coercion? Guess what? We already have coercion. There’s extreme social coercion against the obese in this country. Lieberman’s argument in the column is a good example:
I think we should focus paternalistic laws on children. Youngsters cant make rational, informed decisions about their bodies, and our society agrees that parents dont have the right to make disastrous decisions on their behalf.
Great. Blame the parents. But who’s making the disastrous decisions here?
Along these lines, we should ban all unhealthy food in school soda, pizza, French fries and insist that schools provide adequate daily physical education, which many fail to do.
Notice: It’s the state that’s coercing children to be in school all day, where they are denied access to healthy food and physical activity! In this coercive environment, the federal government provides two free unhealthy meals a day for poor children. Seriously: If you want to bring an evolutionary perspective to bear on this question, look at the effects of eight hours of daily sedentism with an average 1200 kcal/day on a free school breakfast and lunch –not even counting after-school snacks and supper. The state is using its enormous coercive power to force children to become fat.
Despite this record, now Lieberman and others want to bring on some more coercion:
The final option is to collectively restore our diets to a more natural state through regulations. Until recently, all humans had no choice but to eat a healthy diet with modest portions of food that were low in sugar, saturated fat and salt, but high in fiber. They also had no choice but to walk and sometimes run an average of 5 to 10 miles a day. Mr. Bloombergs paternalistic plan is not an aberrant form of coercion but a very small step toward restoring a natural part of our environment.
I’ll believe in restoring our ancestral environment when politicians begin to walk 5 to 10 miles a day to forage for their high-fiber meals. As it is, all they do is dish up high-fiber verbiage for the rest of us.
My opinion: This isn’t about health, it’s about control. Some people cannot stand freedom for others, and do everything they can to squelch it.