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Obesity Concerns Spawn A Worrisome Movement

The issue of demographics is an interesting one. We know that more sedentary lifestyles and an aging population will increase the interest in health-related issues and dietary pressures. A case in point is diabetes -- in 2000, there were 171,000,000 people in the world with diabetes; that's expected to more than double to 366,000,000 by 2030.

Trans fatty acids (TFAs) are the latest nutritional issue to be elevated to the point of absurdity. New York, New Jersey, and even Chicago, have proposed initiatives to ban all TFAs in local restaurants.

Chicago is an interesting study in itself. Its city council, which banned foie gras (goose liver) earlier this year, modified its proposed ban on TFAs to only companies with at least $20 million in sales. Thus it's alright for the local diner to sell food with TFAs but not McDonald's. And after banning smoking in restaurants, Chicago now wants to ban drivers from smoking in their car if they have a passenger with them under the age of 8.

Where will it stop? This movement by the diet police is scientifically misguided and might actually lead to increased risk of heart disease as it diverts attention and emphasis away from the real causes. But the most disturbing aspect of this movement to regulate our diets is these groups' advocacy for government intrusion into not only our lifestyles but personal choices.

One of the best thinkers I know posed the question last week, "Will we select for health attributes in cattle genetics in the future?" It's relatively easy to measure, it's highly heritable and there's plenty of variation to make genetic selection for it viable. It's hard to imagine it in the near future, but I wouldn't be surprised to see it.
-- Troy Marshall