Sunday, December 24, 2006

Fat Lost in Trans-lation

In today's Wall Street Journal Holman Jenkins makes an interesting observation about the upcoming New York City ban on the use of trans fat in restaurants. After remarking on the tendency of the Bloomgergistas to turn the Jeffersoninian maxim about "governing least" on its head, Jenkins points out the connection between the ban and the "slow chattelization of the beneficiary class."

An interesting observation indeed, since one out of every three city residents is a Medicaid recipient, and the city will "shell out $6.6 billion as its share of Medicaid, plus another $3.8 billion on health care for current and retired workers..." Quite clearly, the trans fat ban is aimed directly at the poor who apparently don't know any better. And since fats food restaurants are disproportionately located in low income neighborhoods, the demand for caloric information on menus is also linked directly to Dr. Frieden's crusade to make the poor live healthier lives.

Undoubtably the bodega initiative, which will help the city's small groceries to sell more fresh fruit and vegetables, is part of this same mindset. Here the Department will incentivize the stores to carry more produce, and do outreach in poorer neighborhoods to educate the folks about the benefits of eating healthier foods.

When we examine the Department of Health's neighborhood-by-neighborhood health report the statistics bear out this observation: middle class and affluent communities are not experiencing the obesity epidemic and the concomitant health problems in anywhere near the same degree as the poorer areas of the city do.

The trans fat ban's apparent equal protection quality, because it applies to high-end and low-end restaurants alike, only masks the fact that the fancy eateries are already loading up their delicacies with saturated animal fat (Which, if true, has had little impact on the health of the affluent, who understand all of the other more important variables that go in to making one unhealthy).

Which brings us to the trend that is being established by the city health police; because when the dust has settled and trans fat is history it is more than likely that, "New York's ban will likely have a microscopic ban on the health of New Yorkers, or perhaps none at all. Massive caloric consumption is the real source of America's rising obesity ills, combined with a lack of exercise." When this minuscule impact is established the health police will inevitably escalate their crusade.

Therefore, the next step, "as government expands its fiscal responsibility for our health care," has to be caloric regulation. Which makes it even more incumbent on the New York City Council to involve itself on these issues and legislate. The ideology of the public health caloristas needs to be fully understood and evaluated so that the city isn't forced to comply with regulations that will further restrict our independent scope of action in the name of saving us from ourselves.