Are bacon-cheeseburgers next? As a practical matter, no. Sodas are an easy target because there is nothing, nothing, nutritionally redeeming about them. But might there come a day when the New York City Department of Health mandates that burgers be limited to, say, four ounces? Indeed there might. And why not? Eight- and ten-ounce burgers are sick things.
We have a health crisis in this country. A country with half of its adults living in a condition of obesity is a sick country, quite literally, spending probably not billions but trillions on the associated illnesses and maladies. Under such conditions, the state has every right to take action on behalf of the common good. We once had an epidemic of traffic deaths. We didn’t ban driving. But we came up with a device that is a minor inconvenience at most. And so seatbelts became mandatory, and now the epidemic has receded. A few people still foolishly oppose seatbelts. But most of us accept them and understand that whatever little dollop of our freedom is taken away as we latch up is more than countervailed by the practical upside.
One day, if the country comes to its senses, we’ll reverse the obesity trend and, just as we now chuckle at the prevalence of smoking on Mad Men, we’ll say, “Can you believe people used to peddle this treacle in 64-ounce doses?”