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

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.