Discussions of obesity and overweight should always begin with the old aphorism “everything in moderation.”
There is nothing inherently wrong or evil about eating fast food; the trouble is in quantity. Too many hamburgers are unhealthy, and we need health to fulfil our other wants and needs in life. On the other hand, one could argue that someone who refuses to eat an occasional Big Mac is missing out on the good life, much like a teetotaler.
But we do have a quantity problem in many countries. We worry especially about children because they are innocents, not yet capable of making decisions and therefore not responsible for their actions. That responsibility falls with adults, primarily but not exclusively parents.
A study in this month’s Journal of Law & Economics (abstract only) concludes that childhood obesity in the US could be reduced by about 15% if companies like McDonalds could not advertise on television. Unfortunately, the study is only accessible for a fee and I can’t even get it through my university library yet. So there’s no way to know, until somebody knowledgeable passes judgement in the media or on a blog, if the study’s conclusions are valid.
I wouldn’t be surprised, if the study holds up to scrutiny, to see Ontario finally impose a ban on fast food advertising at least targeting children, if not adolescents and adults. It’s the kind of move the opens the government up to accusations of nany-statism, but I don’t think Premier McGuinty has a problem being our Nany Statist.