Massive in Massachusetts

The people of Massachusetts, who until now have been entirely clueless about the fat content of any food, will finally be set free from their ignorance thanks to the wisdom of Governor Deval Patrick and the other wise and caring officials of the Bay State.

Or at least, that’s what the nanny-staters at the state house in Boston would like you to believe. reports today about the new initiative to save the people of Massachusetts from themselves:

Major restaurant chains in Massachusetts would be required to prominently post the calorie counts for all their offerings – at the counter or on the menu – under a far-reaching anti-obesity campaign that Governor Deval Patrick’s administration is expected to announce today.

This is, of course, just plain silly.  Diet habits don’t change because numbers are put in front of people’s faces.  It may make a few people think twice about adding bacon to their cheeseburger, but there’s little evidence to support the idea that adding calorie counts to menus will change the eating habits of our fat country.

Meanwhile, the owners of restaurants around Massachusetts get to pay not only to have their menus reprinted with calorie amounts all over the place, they also get to pay to determine the caloric content of all of their offerings.  I remember trying to do this sort of thing in high school and college chemistry—it’s fairly hard!

I’m sure chemists in Massachusetts are going to be happy to burn bits of burger to determine the caloric content, but restaurants that are already struggling during this recession aren’t going to be whistling the same tune.

The obesity epidemic is an interesting side effect of being a very wealthy nation.  Turns out, we can all easily afford to eat and many of us really like eating.

If any politicians are to be successful at curbing our appetites, it’s like to be the politicos in Congress and those in the White House.  The previous bunch of political elites helped to drive the economy into the ground and the next will ensure that it stays there by driving up inflation, accelerating the growth of the national debt, and regulating businesses out of existence.

That should keep us all very thin for quite while.