“What’s next? Telling us how many jumping jacks to do?” – Rep. Scott DesJarlais


When it comes to hearing that foods they love may be unhealthy, some adults can throw tantrums that put two-year-olds to shame. I read an article this morning about a report that suggests the government regulate sugar just as it regulates tobacco and alcohol. After ignoring my own rule about online articles (NEVER look at the comments), I noticed a pattern among the readers. Nearly all had three main points:


  • I ate pixie sticks/French fries/fruit loops as a child!
  • Nothing is wrong with me now! I’m in perfect health!
  • The parents should be responsible for kids! The government should stay out of this!


Here’s the thing: I certainly don’t think it’s productive or even possible to force people to do something with their own body that they don’t want to do. But I also believe that it takes a village to raise a child. You can pass judgment on a stranger based on your own value system as loudly and as often as you’d like, but it will not make that person a more responsible steward of their child’s body or their own. We are the government, and it’s our responsibility as members of this society to care for each other. To me, it makes perfect sense for us to regulate sugar so kids who are raised by parents without the privilege of education and the good choices that come from that have the capacity to make good choices themselves. For example, no one is saying that an 18-year old young woman growing up in poverty can’t smoke, but she knows that she needs her ID to buy cigarettes and has to pay an additional tax for them. In this way, we are collectively telling her that this choice is damaging her body.


I constantly hear about how sad it is that our values are changing as a culture, but this one is what I find most harmful: the belief that we can stand solely as individuals, and only work together when we all feel like it.  For the sake of my own health and the well being of others around me, I wish we’d drop this and just regulate things that are slowly killing our friends and family as I type.


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