Monday, October 12, 2009

Calorie Crap

Because he won't be happy until all New Yorkers are able to strip down to their glistening, rock-hard naked bodies and run four marathons in a row without stretching a hamstring, New York mayor Michael Bloomberg has been leading the charge for more intrusive "for your own good" health laws in his fair city. Trans fats? Since you're too stupid to turn them down, they're out of here! Cigarettes? Since every bloated yokel in line for a souvenir Gump & Co. t-shirt has a God-given right to force changes in private business habits, you're only allowed to smoke in a board-certified panic room buried at least 400 yards below the surface of the earth. Lately, Bloomberg helped push through a new law requiring all New York restaurants to prominently display calorie information for all their menu items. The idea was that people would see a KFC Double Down cheese and bacon sandwich with chicken bread makes up 900% of their daily calorie intake and maybe choose a salad instead. But according to the first major study into the effects of the new law, not so much. Researchers from Yale University and NYU compared fast food receipts from some of New York's poorest neighborhoods before and after the calorie law went into effect. Not only did the labeling fail to change anyone's eating habits, but overall numbers went up slightly after the law. This may be because people are as dumb as Bloomberg thinks and mistook calories for awesome points. Or it could just be that people like to eat what's cheap and tasty. In any case, this law seems to have been nothing but a burden on the restaurant owners of New York City. So maybe those obese bastards won't be able to afford as much food? Silver lining. More details here. (NOTE: This story may appear to demonstrate a libertarian bias on the part of the author. In light of recent tensions involving libertarian activism in the skeptical community, let me just say that while I support individual freedom and the rights of business owners, I also enjoy libraries and public schools. And I don't bite off people's fingers at anti-health care rallies.)

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