Those new sugar labels probably aren't going to help anyone

Michelle Obama finally scored that major victory she was looking for in terms of monitoring what everyone eats last week. As Politico reported, the First Lady was instrumental in driving through a new rule which will require food producers to add yet another layer of information on product nutrition labels, this time targeting how much sugar they add to their products and how much will probably kill you.

First lady Michelle Obama Friday unveiled the country’s first update to nutrition labels in more than two decades — a move that helps cement her campaign to encourage Americans to eat healthier.

The new Nutrition Facts labels, which will take effect in two years and appear on billions of food packages, for the first time require food companies to list how much sugar they add to their products and suggest a limit for how much added sugar people should consume — two changes vehemently opposed by many food companies.

The food companies are up in arms for a couple of reasons. First of all, yet another redesign of all their packaging isn’t going to be cheap. On top of that, even though we’re not talking about a known carcinogen or actual toxic substance here, they’re going to need to scare their customers into buying less of their products the same as if they were selling tobacco. Besides that, they’re probably sure that this yet more government window dressing which makes it look like they’re doing something without really having much of an impact on the “problem” they’re trying to solve. That last point was highlighted in this report from Newsweek where they conclude that the people most in need of dietary advice are the least likely to be affected by the new labeling.

The biggest overhaul of U.S. food nutrition labels in more than two decades is likely to help improve the diets of the most health-conscious consumers, but others may need more convincing.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday announced new Nutrition Facts packaged food label rules that include disclosure of how much sugar is added to thousands of processed foods ranging from soda to spaghetti sauce…

Curbing excess sugar consumption is key to whittling waist lines in the United States, where more than one-third of adults are obese, and to reducing the prevalence of heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer.

So expensive (to implement) nutrition labels aren’t going to reach your target audience? Hmm…. that’s a puzzler to be sure. Now, if I were a massive government bureaucracy and had to find some other way modify the public’s consumption behavior, how might I go about it? Oh, wait… they’ve already thought of it before I could even bring up the suggestion. (Emphasis added)

Public health advocates welcomed the new rules but said some of the groups most at risk for obesity and diet-related illness may not change habits without other measures to discourage sugar consumption, such as taxes on sugar and food advertising warning labels.

Of course! Taxes and frightening, dire warning labels like on cigarettes. The taxes are a no brainer of course. If you don’t want people doing something, pass a sin tax on the activity in question. It’s straight out of the liberal playbook on page one. Don’t want people smoking? Put a 700% tax on cigarettes rather than banning them. Don’t like guns? Try passing a massive tax on ammunition. It works for almost anything, really.

And the warning labels clearly need to be modeled after the ones on a pack of Marboros. That should be a great fit for the cereal boxes that toddlers of lower income families adore.

LuckyCharms

This is yet another fabulous plan from the nanny state. People who want sugar will generally eat sweet things. If you’re the type who fixates on product nutrition labels, you’re probably already concerned about your health and are eating pretty well anyway. The people who could really use some dietary improvements aren’t calculating the data on the label. It’s similar to when they decided to make companies include “serving size” warnings on everything. Did you know the serving size of Girl Scout cookies is three cookies? I’ve got news for Michelle Obama… across most of the country the serving size on those bad boys remains one sleeve. (If you’re lucky.)

But now that the decision has been made, I assume this will be yet another legacy of hope and change which the Obama family will leave in their wake. Well done, guys. We should be a nation of slender, athletic marvels by the summer.

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