What is Government's Role in Fighting Obesity (Letter to the Editor)

What is Government's Role in Fighting Obesity (Letter to the Editor)

July 14, 2010
Originally published in The Hartford Courant


Professor Kelly D. Brownell's laudation of federal efforts to combat obesity are misguided [Opinion, July 11, "Government Must Act To Protect Citizens"]. Aside from the freedom to choose what we eat, he overlooks a basic economic fact: Government agricultural subsidies contribute to obesity by distorting price incentives.

Totaling between $15 billion and $35 billion per year, many crop subsidies allow farmers to sell at lower-than-market prices. Manufacturers benefit from these subsidized crops because they can sell their final products cheap. Such products have contained any number of favorite culprits (such as high-fructose corn syrup) that are routinely cited by public health experts as contributing to obesity. Eliminating the billions spent each year on these subsidies will empower people to make better-informed nutritional decisions without distorted prices.

Promoting nanny-state solutions to a problem created by government policy is a knee-jerk reaction to a symptom and ignores the disease totally. Abolishing the crop-subsidy program will allow Americans to, effectively, compare apples to apples.