Recently, there have been many proposals by the government to regulate the food and beverage choices that people make.  Here at Sip & Savor we have said it before: government regulations won’t make people healthier.

Just look at an effort in Los Angeles to limit the number of fast food restaurants in low-income neighborhoods as a way to improve public health. A city ordinance in 2008 called for a ban on new stand-alone “fast-food” restaurants in low-income neighborhoods where obesity rates were high. The government’s theory was that people would turn to lower-calorie foods if it was less convenient to choose higher-calorie foods.

The result? Obesity rates went up.

A recent editorial by The Fresno Bee notes that according to a study by the RAND Corporation funded by the National Institutes of Health, “Researchers found that rates of obesity and being overweight increased citywide after 2008, and the increases were significantly higher in the communities targeted by the fast-food ordinance.”

Why? The reality is that obesity is a complex issue with many contributing factors and there is no simple solution. In the case of L.A., the Bee stated that, “people eat fast food because it is convenient and relatively cheap”, especially low-income families on a budget and leading busy lives. To lose weight, people must balance their calories with their activity, said the Bee.

So why then are food activists and government trying to regulate behavior instead of educating people about balancing their calories to achieve a healthy lifestyle?

Whether proposing taxes on sugar-sweetened beverages or limiting what people can buy with their SNAP benefits, politicians need to realize that regulation will not solve the public health challenge of obesity. In some cases, like we saw in Los Angeles, they may only make things worse.

“Personal initiative trumps government intervention,” says the Bee.

Right. Our industry recognizes this and that’s why we are committed to providing consumers with the information and options they need to achieve a balanced lifestyle by themselves.

To learn more about why government regulations won’t make people healthy check out