February 10, 2014

Shallow notions of "food deserts" and fixing bad eating habits by subsidizing the fruit and vegetable sellers.

"The presumption is, if you build a store, people are going to come," but: "We don't find any difference at all. ... We see no effect of the store on fruit and vegetable consumption."

The quote, at NPR.org, is from a Penn State sociology/anthropology/demography professor named Stephen Matthews, who points out what NPR paraphrases and characterizes as "obvious": "Lots more intervention is needed to change behavior."

That is, if well-meaning manipulations of human culture fail, what is needed is more intervention. Manipulate harder.

And a UCLA "public health researcher" named Alex Ortega is quoted:
"The next part of the intervention is to create demand... so the community wants to come to the store and buy healthy fruits and vegetables and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar."
Here comes the next part of your intervention, you ignorant folk. We're going to push harder and harder until you finally go to the store, buy things that so far you haven't wanted, take those things home, wash them, slice them up, and cook them the right way, the way the people who know better call "healthy."


The academic concept is to "to create demand... so the community wants..." what it is supposed to want. The collective noun "community" requires me to proceed with the pronoun "it" (rather than "you").

It will — after this act of creation occurs — go to the vegetable store and buy vegetables, it will take up cooking, it will cook them without resorting to any of the traditional techniques to cut the bitterness and lubricate the pathway, and it will eat these heretofore undesired foods. All of this will happen because it will be what the community wants.

As traditional parents used to say to the children about the broccoli and spinach in the 1950s: You will eat it and you will like it.

***

I was going to go pedantic on the "healthy"/"healthful" distinction, but the OED has one of the meanings of "healthy" — going back to the 16th century — as "Conducive to or promoting health; wholesome, salubrious; salutary."
1577   B. Googe tr. C. Heresbach Foure Bks. Husbandry i. f. 8v,   Best is it..in good and healthy places, to set the house toward the East.
a1704   J. Locke Some Thoughts conc. Educ. §204   Gardening or husbandry, and working in wood, are fit and healthy recreations for a man of study or business.
1748   Wesley Let. conc. Tea in Besant London (1892) 372   A Mixture of Herbs..healthier as well as cheaper than Tea.
That's what "healthful" means too, and you might think it's better to promote the distinction between the 2 words on the theory that it makes the English language better when words have different meanings so that we can express ideas with greater precision, but that's your notion of what's good for the community.

Those who think they know better can try to get people to do what they think is good. Is pushing the correct words any more effective than pushing people to eat healthy/healthful food? I'm not convinced that the pushers are pushing the right stuff. The healthy/healthful distinction is dubious (or should I say doubtful?). And I don't believe that there's any reason why fruit gets to ride the good-for-you promotion along with vegetables. Isn't fruit seems to mostly a higher class packaging of sugar? And only some vegetables have special nutritional value. Should people really be wasting their time and money on the structured water that is zucchini or celery?

81 comments:

ddh said...

And after making the community buy broccoli fails to improve diets, the next stop is the communal kitchen.

FreePeopleandFreeMarkets said...

I believe the reason for this behavior has politics at its core, but not in a way NPR might like to hear. If you don't expect people to take responsibility for themselves in an economic or moral way, or to pay for the real cost of their health insurance or medical bills, why would you expect them to take responsibility for their own physical health? And if you don't expose them in school to any type of critical thinking or honest debate about right vs. left issues, why would you expect them to be able to choose between healthy and unhealthy foods?

traditionalguy said...

You are acting like the goal is a healthy food eating community, silly rabbit.

The goal is a career in government with healthy pay, impressive authority, professional recognition and free resort conference attendance several times a year followed by a carefully planned early retirement including gold standard health care.

And as long as the problem remains the same, there will be all the more need for governance experts.

Paul Zrimsek said...

This is what lurks behind all the libertarian-paternalist talk of "nudges". Its true function is to undermine your resistance to the idea that the government is entitled to modify your behavior; once you've agreed to that, they'll nudge you with a bulldozer if that's what it takes.

Oso Negro said...

People won't do the right thing on health insurance until we force them into a single payer system. All Democrats know this. People probably won't do the right thing on eating into we force them into a single food provider system. For the children.

Brennan said...

This is what lurks behind all the libertarian-paternalist talk of "nudges".

What is "libertarian" at all about these "nudges"?

I view them as progressive overreach in the sense the progressives refuse to read the historical failures of their ideas.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

It rubs the lotion on its skin, or else it gets the hose again.

Edward Lunny said...

Food deserts huh. In the moderately sized city nearby the denizens regularly complain about the lack of a supermarket within the city environs. The media regularly commiserate and bemoan the same. Not surprisingly, no one, nary a soul, not the denizens or the media, not the community activists ever talk about just why it is that there are no supermarkets. They ignore the reasons because the truth doesn't remotely fit their meme.
This city has lost a variety of supermarkets and even pharmacies over the years. And why is that you might ask, why is it that the denizens and advocates refuse to address this issue ? It's because the whining denizens and their advocates refuse to confront the fact that the denizens shop lifted/stole from, basically stripped these businesses bare on a regular basis. The idiot population drove these businesses out of town. The shrinkage rates in these businesses rose to double digit rates, comfortably double digit rates. Pharmacies put every item behind glass. What business would be inclined, let alone afford, to do business under such conditions. those behaviours have still not been confronted or criticized by the denizens, their advocates, or this city's government.
One could be excused from believing that these such deserts have been earned, indeed, deserved by populations that lack any kind of respect for much of anything. Like so many other problems with urban areas, with the poverty "stricken", the problems are self inflicted. Stupidly and unapologetically self inflicted. This city, unsurprisingly, has abysmal schools, a virtually non-existent tax base and no plan or effort to rectify these problems. Well, no plan save blaming everyone and anyone else. Perhaps it isn't bad policy to allow these folks to enjoy the consequences of their stupidity and ignorance.

Saint Croix said...

The next part of the intervention is to create demand...

Liberals don't allow themselves to admit to greed. They can't open up a store to make money. No, no! I am not doing this for me. I am not selfish. It's not for me, it's for you! Why won't you come to my store, you ungrateful public, I am working so hard for you!

Liberals politicize everything. Religion, weather, food, sex positions. You name it, some liberal wants to control it. Not for me, it's for you!

But liberals can't be mean. We're liberals, we can't be mean. So we have to disguise any urge to control through big mommy propaganda. We need an intervention!

Oh sure, some mean liberals outlaw the big gulp. But most liberals are way, way, way too passive-aggressive to outlaw the big gulp. What we need is to hold your hand so we can work through your problem together. Not just a law. We need an intervention!

Actually, we want your mind. If we could just fix your mind, all will be well. You sugar addicts need to realize how sweet I am. I am liberal!

Pogo is Dead said...

"That is, if well-meaning manipulations of human culture fail, what is needed is more intervention. Manipulate harder. "

Once Congress can require Americans to buy health insurance, Justice Antonin Scalia noted, “Everybody has to buy food sooner or later. Therefore, you can make people buy broccoli.

If Congress thinks Americans are too fat,it can decree that Americans shall lose weight.

Federal District Court Judge Roger Vinson: “If they decided that everybody needs to eat broccoli because broccoli is healthy, they can mandate that everybody has to buy a certain quantity of broccoli each week?

Congress could require that people buy and consume broccoli at regular intervals, not only because the required purchases will positively impact interstate commerce, but also because people who eat healthier tend to be healthier, and are thus more productive and put less of a strain on the health care system.

...my friend Dean Chemerinsky says the government can, under the commerce clause, in his view, order Americans to buy G.M. cars.
"


Of course the government can force this down your throat. Literally, if they deem it.

What I don't understand is why Althouse seems to be opposed, if she is.

Coerced correct behavior entirely consistent with the ACA, gay marriage and the forbidding of negative words in describing blacks, so why not food?

Henry said...

Obviously we need a better class of poor people.

Michael K said...

Fortunately, everybody now has plenty of time to cook healthy food as they no longer are wage slaves.

Unknown said...

It's a funny thing that you chose today to highlight this issue - only this morning, the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger has a front page (above the fold) article about the most recent supermarket that was enticed to open in one of the "food deserts", only to go out of business less than one year later.

It seems the "community" didn't like the prices or the quality of the food. It seems it (to use your pronoun choice) wanted to have top-shelf goods at below-market prices, or else they would rather complain and vote with their feet. As a result, the feet appear to be voting early and often, and another opportunity to have a viable business in the inner city has gone away.

And yet, the city wants to try to attract another supermarket tenant, which (given the history of such ventures in the city in the past) gets more and more difficult with each iteration. Two large chains have been dissuaded by a city infrastructure that is largely unworkable. The hoops the stores need to jump through to become licensed to accept the current-day equivalent of food stamps apparently forces the next "victim" to underwrite significant losses of business for nearly a year until the license will be granted. All in all, a great place to start a business - and an even greater place to stop one.

Unknown said...

It's a funny thing that you chose today to highlight this issue - only this morning, the Newark (NJ) Star Ledger has a front page (above the fold) article about the most recent supermarket that was enticed to open in one of the "food deserts", only to go out of business less than one year later.

It seems the "community" didn't like the prices or the quality of the food. It seems it (to use your pronoun choice) wanted to have top-shelf goods at below-market prices, or else they would rather complain and vote with their feet. As a result, the feet appear to be voting early and often, and another opportunity to have a viable business in the inner city has gone away.

And yet, the city wants to try to attract another supermarket tenant, which (given the history of such ventures in the city in the past) gets more and more difficult with each iteration. Two large chains have been dissuaded by a city infrastructure that is largely unworkable. The hoops the stores need to jump through to become licensed to accept the current-day equivalent of food stamps apparently forces the next "victim" to underwrite significant losses of business for nearly a year until the license will be granted. All in all, a great place to start a business - and an even greater one to stop one.

Tarrou said...

I foresee a role for the NSA in enforcing this new idea. If they have all these phone calls, e-mails, facebook posts, why not use them to MAKE PEOPLE'S LIVES BETTER?

"Uhh, Agent Willis, we've got a Mrs. Baker called her husband with a grocery list, no broccoli on it anywhere"

"My god Simpson, spool up the drones and get my a SWAT team. We've got a live one!"

Brennan said...

How come NPR will publicly air countless stories from the perspective of environmental groups that the reason we consume fossil fuels is because they are subsidized by federal, state, and local government incentives? And yet, NPR will not air stories about how the selection of foods in so called "food deserts" is largely the result of similar regulation and subsidies from federal, state and local governments.

I used to live in one of the so called "food deserts". A fresh produce market was 8 blocks away. This was in a city location. It was 1.5 miles away. It was a 20 minute walk, 10 minute bus ride or a 5 minute bike ride. If this was too much of a hassle, you did have a food delivery service called PeaPod that would bring you all the food you could purchase.

Mr. Apropos said...

but if i fill up on fruits and vegetables i'll be too stuffed to enjoy my weekly chocolate ration which, i understand, is being increased to 25 grams. please advise.

RecChief said...

juxtapose that with teh picture I saw over the weekend of a 300 pound woman and the headline "Ending fat shaming". (apologies, I don't remember where I saw it, so I can't cite or link to it)

Hagar said...

It is always thus with the progressives: If you don't seem to understand what is good for you, they will make you understand.

RecChief said...

I think FreepeopleandFreemarkets is on the right track.

Henry said...

Think of all the lamentations offered by the left on the pernicious effects of corporate advertising. The populace, in this biblical complaint, is hopelessly malleable, an easy mark for candy-coated photography and pretty faces.

Now it turns out that the problem is that populace is not so easily malleable. They gilded a golden calf of muesli and nobody came to worship.

Tank said...

Why are we wasting time with half-ass ideas like nudging. Let's just set up a Foodcare.org, let everyone input all their info (height, weight, age, measurements, etc), let the gov't calculate your optimum Gold, Silver, or Bronze Plan, and let you know when you can pick up your ration.

End of problem. Saves time and effort trying to figure out what to buy. Everyone healthy and happy.

Pajamas for all.

Pogo is Dead said...

If the State can force Catholics to fund abortions and the pill in health insurance, and force bakers to make wedding cakes for gay men, then it can force you to buy and eat the food it wants you to.

Why you think would otherwise is unclear.

The State is a leviathan, it won't pick nicely around the pet issues favored by Althouse.

When you vote for a boot stamping on a human face forever, this is what it looks like. It doesn't just stamp on the faces you dislike. Eventually it'll stamp on the things you favor.

And no one will remain to oppose it.

Pogo is Dead said...

(From Insty) Yesterday in Florida, SWAT Uses Woman’s Home without Permission. ‘You all need to leave, you can’t be in your house’"

See? They can do anything they goddamned want to.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

. . . and go home and prepare those foods in a healthy way, without lots of fat, salt or sugar."

Salt is harmless, you idiots. And, it makes prepared veggies much better, as does grilling/frying them in EVOO (s fat! - oh my!)

Oh, and many fruits are high in sugar, and thus should only be eaten in moderation.

And back to the "not just wrong, but as wrong as wrong can be" principle, the Progressive national Food Pyramid (McGovern committee) -- how's that working out?

Tank said...

Pogo is Dead said...

If the State can force Catholics to fund abortions and the pill in health insurance, and force bakers to make wedding cakes for gay men, then it can force you to buy and eat the food it wants you to.

Why you think would otherwise is unclear.

The State is a leviathan, it won't pick nicely around the pet issues favored by Althouse.

When you vote for a boot stamping on a human face forever, this is what it looks like. It doesn't just stamp on the faces you dislike. Eventually it'll stamp on the things you favor.

And no one will remain to oppose it.

Pogo, Pogo, Pogo, you talk about "the boot" as if it is a bug; it is a feature (notice the neat use of a semicolon). Each election, we vote for more "boot." Americans love "the boot." In every way, every day, the "boot" "regulates (smashes your face) everything you eat, do and say.

The Boot.

It's the best.

More boot.

Brennan said...

@Unknown

Speaking of that oasis in the food desert of Newark, there are some interesting details in the Star Ledger story about how awful progressives are at central planning. Maybe if we give them one more chance they can make it right.

Ahmed said the co-owners faced a number of challenges, including construction delays that lasted two years and paying rent before they were able to open. The biggest problem, though, was not getting the license from the state to accept food stamps from the Women'™s Infants and Children's program for the low-income neighborhood.

"That really hurt us," Ahmed said. "The WIC accounts for about 15 percent of business."

He said they applied but were put on a waiting list and told the state only gives out a certain number of licenses. While they waited, business suffered and residents said they didn't shop there because the prices were high.


It's time for Americans to just break up with progressive central planning already. This abusive relationship is throwing good money at bad policy. The politicians win. Do I need to even search for Senator Booker's ribbon cutting ceremony for this grocer?

Ann Althouse said...

Great comments.

I feel like I should front-page everything.

Paco Wové said...

The USDA says it recently revised its "Food Desert Bullshit" map, but I notice that the new version still places a large chunk of my town – a chunk centered on a large, full-service supermarket – as being a "food desert".

Hagar said...

If Ahmed's license was slow in coming, it may be that he was slow in paying off.
This was Newark, New Jersey, right?

Illuninati said...

The interventions suggested in the article are not bad in themselves as long as they are completely voluntary and avoid any government coercion.

Unfortunately, the authors come across as condescending towards the people they claim to help. This attitude mirrors the worst stereotype of the ugly American (in the worst sense of the word) in a foreign culture except in this case the arrogance is directed against fellow Americans. Lefties are the new ugly Americans.

Roger Sweeny said...

This is, of course, very similar to education. Academics hope that good schools, good teachers, and good curricula will lead to young people wanting to learn.

But since they may not do so voluntarily, they will be forced to go to school and will be "assessed" on their learning. The law will then say to potential employers, "You may not hire on the basis of race or sex or test scores but we would be happy if your hired on the basis of whether someone did well in school."

RecChief said...

Tank Said...
Pogo, Pogo, Pogo, you talk about "the boot" as if it is a bug; it is a feature (notice the neat use of a semicolon). Each election, we vote for more "boot." Americans love "the boot." In every way, every day, the "boot" "regulates (smashes your face) everything you eat, do and say. "

slightly on a tangent, I was just remarking to a colleague about the young men and women we get as recruits. It looks to me that the reason they join is that they are looking for structure; they want to be LED. After hearing several of their individual stories about the their home lives, I can see why. Then we take them, lead them, mentor them, and give them opportunities to lead. It makes me wonder (I'm no psychologist) if a consequence of leftist policies regarding families is to make the population in general more malleable and manipulated.

Pogo is Dead said...

It's the goal, not just a consequence.

Power over the sheep is their only aim. They don't give a damn about nutrition or healthcare or sexual freedom (Fen's law).

It's always been about power. They'll use whatever fad issue they can to advance it. Smoking, broccoli, pollution, the weather, etc.

DKWalser said...

This is a great example of the progression of government intervention Hayek describes in The Road to Serfdom. First, the government suggests, when that fails, the government insists. Behind every government suggestion is the implicit threat of force -- all for our own good.

This is the anthesis of liberty. Liberals see nothing wrong with forcing people to do the right thing.

MaxedOutMama said...

I kind of have to agree with Traditional Guy. All social research shows that is very hard to change behavior this way.

If you wanted to change behavior the easiest and most cost effective way, you would institute blood sugar tolerance tests in high schools, which is not expensive and would pick up the population group that has a significant problem, and then provide them targeted information and additional follow-up testing so they could get real-time feedback.

But that would be too boring and would mean actually working with people, rather than sitting in Ivory Academic Towers and getting very highly paid for writing papers.

Sometimes I think when American manufacturing started to decline, our society shifted to the manufacture of nonsense.

Jay said...

The government has a long, distinguished track record at failing at these sort of things and at offering any sort of useful dietary guidance.

Otherwise, this is how modern day 'progressives' get their jollies, folks. Telling others what to do.
If you think this dope from Penn State has any remote interest in you being healthy, you haven't been paying attention for the last 30 years.

It is all about "I'm smarter, better than you, therefore I'm going to tell you what to do"

Period.

Laslo Spatula said...

Can we just have the National Guard air-drop crates of vegetables into the streets of the impoverished inner cities?

Biff said...

Back when I was in college and trying to figure out what to do after graduation, I thought that going to graduate school for "public health" sounded very appealing. I thought "public health" meant disease prevention/control, epidemiology, etc., but as I visited my university's school of public health, I was stunned by the baseline assumption of nearly all of the grad students and many of the faculty I met: strip away the jargon, and every "problem" has a solution rooted in parentalistic authoritarianism. I would have been miserable every day with those people.

(I also was very interested in forestry and conservation. Similar story.)

Now I work in healthcare. Someone shoot me.

Jason said...

Every woman adores a fascist.

Jay said...

Obamacare's Restaurant Calorie-Label Mandate Is A Complete Mess

Totally stunning!

Bob Boyd said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ignorance is Bliss said...

Ann Althouse said...

Great comments.

I feel like I should front-page everything.


There she goes again, nudging us to comment the way she likes.

Mary Beth said...

Who does a better job of bringing fresh fruit and vegetables along with other nutritious food choices to people who can't afford, or don't have access to Whole Foods or trendy food boutique stores, the government or Wal*Mart?

Charlie Martin said...

libertarian-paternalist talk of "nudges"

This is a use of the word "libertarian" with which I'm unfamiliar.

whswhs said...

The floggings will continue until morale improve.

cubanbob said...

The authors of this piece ought to put their money where their mouth is an open a fruit and vegetable stand in these food deserts and give them away for free. Then they can determine whether or not there is a demand for them.

Joe said...

The USDA food desert map is absurd. In my area, it marked one of the richest residential areas in town as a food desert!

acm said...

Is "libertarian-paternalist" like "skinny-fat"?

Joe said...

The other conceit in all of this is the tacit assumption that fruits and vegetables are super foods.

FullMoon said...

Almost 50 comment and I am the first to say it? African Americans are not capable of making healthy choices.

There, I said it. Isn't that what is really being said at NPR?

Tank said...

@FullMoon WTF?

No saying things out loud.

Hitler.

cubanbob said...

The quote, at NPR.org, is from a Penn State sociology/anthropology/demography professor named Stephen Matthews, who points out what NPR paraphrases and characterizes as "obvious": "Lots more intervention is needed to change behavior."

Next NPR will be required listening under the guise that it's quality food for the mind.

Andy Freeman said...

> Lefties are the new ugly Americans.

They were the old ugly Americans too.

William said...

The nudge doesn't have to be anything too Draconian. Random, mild electric shocks in the baked goods aisle. A free lottery ticket with the purchase of every broccoli head. Perhaps if it could be arranged that one or two people a year died from their unlucky bag of potato chips, then consumption of that item could be drastically cut......People with imagination and vision can figure out how to make these things happen, and those are just the kind of people most likely to become govt. food administrators.

bbkingfish said...

Yep. Why would these intrusive nutritional scientists want to change people's eating habits? Don't they know it's fun to have all these fat people to ridicule?

And government trying to manipulate the attitudes and behavior of its citizens? That's another bad thing started by Obama.

The chum seems especially rank this morning.

RecChief said...

so when are Inga, Garage Mahal, and/or AReasonableMan going to show up and dazzle us with the brilliance of why we should pine for "Lots more intervention to change behavior"?

Andy Freeman said...

> If you wanted to change behavior the easiest and most cost effective way,

Let's see how "easy" and "cost-effective" you've got.

> you would institute blood sugar tolerance tests in high schools, which is not expensive

You're confusing the cost of the test with the cost of administering the test and processing results.

> and would pick up the population group that has a significant problem,

And would miss the relevant population because they drop out.

> and then provide them targeted information and additional follow-up testing so they could get real-time feedback.

And they're highly resistant to said feedback.

The above reasoning suggests that a water additive that turns red when someone urinates in a pool would discourage said urination. In the real world, the result was contests to see who could leave the longest trail.

Why are the social sciences filled by people who have no understanding of actual people? STEM folk actually understand their field of study.

Hagar said...

I do not know what the situation is today, but not so long ago the pediatricians here in Albuquerque were agreed that the healthiest kids in town were those in the poorest Mexican areas in the valley, where they ate a lot of beans, tomatoes, lettuce, and green chile with corn tortillas.

Hagar said...

And Andy,
"The Ugly American" and his homely wife were the heroes of that book; it was the "beautiful" Americans the authors argued should behave been kept at home.

Seeing Red said...

The solution is obvious. We need a government program to turn unemployed people into chefs. Each chef will be subsidized and be assigned a family. Once assigned, each chef will undergo culturally-sensitive training and prepare foods from that culture. The income test for that family will be similar to EITC. We will increase food stamp allotment to cover the purchase and preparation of the food by that family's personal chef.

No government-issued ID will be required to be accepted into the program or receive increased benefits. English requirement is flexible.

As well all know, for every $1 of food stamps issued, it puts $ 1.66 back into the economy.

Minimum wage will also be increased to $12 because the chefs will need to provide their own transportation.

If there isn't enough interest in this program, the obama national corps will be trained to do this.

To make sure there are adequate chefs, all high schools will be mandated to provide and all high schoolers will be required to take 2 years of cooking to graduate. So all schools, high school and cooking schools have the same standards, all will be unionized. To free up blocks of space, the U.S. Constitution requirement is dropped, along with the 4th year of English. Reading recipes will count in the core curriculum as English and math.

elkh1 said...

Another excuse to waste taxpayers' money.

Hey, why not ban all "junk" food? Leftists like to ban things that they don't like. Or file class action suits against Big Food(?) like they did to Big Tobacco.

Seeing Red said...

Just raise taxes on it.

Hagar said...

After the flawed rollout of the Affordable Care Act, most of Washington focused on repairing and delaying the law’s most obvious problems. However, a handful of lawmakers have finally noticed one of the law’s hidden regulations: a strict calorie labeling requirement for chain restaurants, vending machines, and other food distributors. What at first appeared to be more bureaucratic but harmless government do-gooding is now proving a verifiable nightmare for small business owners and federal regulators alike. . . .

So, don't get any ideas of using your new-found freedoms under the ACA to open any "healthy" eateries in a "food desert"!

Larry J said...

Illuninati said...
The interventions suggested in the article are not bad in themselves as long as they are completely voluntary and avoid any government coercion.

Unfortunately, the authors come across as condescending towards the people they claim to help. This attitude mirrors the worst stereotype of the ugly American (in the worst sense of the word) in a foreign culture except in this case the arrogance is directed against fellow Americans. Lefties are the new ugly Americans.


I first observed this Ugly American tendency back in 1993. A bunch of east & west coast types were transferred to Colorado Springs. They then proceeded to endlessly bad-mouth the Springs for not having all of the liberal utopian government services they wanted. After hearing this go on for several days, I told them flat out, "It just goes to show, you don't have to go overseas to be an Ugly American." They did less of their bitching in my presence after that.

Seeing Red said...

Portlandia(?) Oregon lost a Trader Joe's because of interference.

mccullough said...

The backlash will bode well for Christie's presidential ambitions.

MnMark said...

If you wanted to change behavior the easiest and most cost effective way, you would institute blood sugar tolerance tests in high schools, which is not expensive and would pick up the population group that has a significant problem, and then provide them targeted information and additional follow-up testing so they could get real-time feedback.

I think this betrays a naivete about the mindset of the kind of people you are trying to help. I don't think your average inner-city dumbbell (speaking frankly) gives a crap about his blood sugar level, and I don't think that having a smiling, well-meaning health care worker tell them that they should is going to make any difference.

There is this SWPL/progressive unquestioned faith in the power of talk/dialog/education/information to change people. Talking just doesn't make much difference. You think Phillip Seymour Hoffman - who I assume was no idiot - didn't know that heroin was a bad idea? Do you think he just needed some education about the dangers of heroin?

I think that the only reliable way to change behavior is to get out of the way and let nature apply the kind of pain that it naturally dishes out to people who make stupid choices. When the pain gets bad enough, they may seek out information themselves. Or they may just suffer in stubborn refusal to see, which is their free choice as a human being.

ken in sc said...

This reminds me of another government program to make people do what is good for them, prohibition. During prohibition, they started putting poison in hardware store alcohol to keep people from drinking it, even though they knew some people would drink it anyway and die. The thinking seemed to be, drinking is bad for you. If you don't believe us, we're going to make it kill you, for your own good.

There is a track record of how extreme busy bodies will push the 'it's for your own good' excuse. Death is pretty extreme.

Edmund said...

@elkh1: Or file class action suits against Big Food(?) like they did to Big Tobacco.

Megan McArdle said on her blog a while back that there were meetings of trial lawyers to plan exactly how to do that. When one source of money runs dry, they hold strategy meetings to plan the next set of lawsuits. So, expect assaults on McD, KFC, BK, Taco Bell, etc.

Mountain Maven said...

I noticed that the 3 quotes in Ann's post were from people/entities partially or wholly paid by the taxpayers. That's the part that is annoying.

Rusty said...

Fascists always have efficient ways of altering behavior

Edmund said...

If you wanted to change behavior the easiest and most cost effective way, you would institute blood sugar tolerance tests in high schools, which is not expensive and would pick up the population group that has a significant problem, and then provide them targeted information and additional follow-up testing so they could get real-time feedback.

A glucose tolerance test is not cheap. You have to have a fasting patient and several hours to give them the glucose drink, take serial blood samples, and then analyze them. An A1c test is better for looking for diabetes.

This does get to a problem in medicine and the food issue discussed here: compliance.

One of the biggest problems in medicine is lack of compliance with even simple things like medication doses. One estimate is that 75% of adults are non-compliant. I'm pretty good at keeping up with my meds, but I admit that I miss about 1 dose per month. Fortunately, it's not that critical for me. I know of family members that are really bad at taking oral meds, doing injections, etc.

If you follow the logic from the article, we need to have medical monitors that will be sure you take your meds. Perhaps this is another area where we can employ the unemployed.

paul a'barge said...

o.m.g.

This is incredible!!! Check this out:

You know the guy (Alex Ortega at UCLA) who says the state needs more intervention? Well, you can just see this one coming from a mile away:

Click to look at Alex

He is *FAT*. Not just over weight. This mutt is neo-obese.

Are you kidding me? Did they hand-roll these people right out of the movie The Matrix?

Birches said...

City Journal had a really good article on food deserts in Britain from 2002. Taranto linked to it a few days ago.


It's the culture, stupid.

Doug said...

"Food deserts" in the inner city is no big whoop ... now, let someone identify a "lottery ticket desert" or "cigarette desert" in the inner city, and you will see some action, by God.

Doug said...

The hidden hand of the fresh produce lobby is behind this. Produce Marketing Association (PMA) and United Fresh Produce Association (UFPA) have been fanning the flames on this debate for some time. Your tax dollars at work doing the marketing work for produce growers.

Pianoman said...

Doesn't Trader Joe's sell veggies? Aren't they well known for their "fresh food choices"?

So the Left is howling about "food deserts", but at the same time Leftist activist groups are stopping stores like TJ's from going into communities, because of "gentrification" or "Whitey" or something.

It's hard to take a child seriously when he's hitting himself in the face with a bat.

jaed said...

I just looked at the USDA map, and it seems I officially live in a fairly large urban food desert.

If I walk out my front door, turn left, and walk two blocks, I will be in a very nice semi-groovy full-service grocery store, with a full selection of fruit and vegetables, plus a salad bar and stir-fry bar.

If I stop outside the store, turn left again, and walk four more blocks, I will arrive at a food coop with all the highly organic products you would ever hope to see. This place also hosts a large farmer's market every week.

If I turn right instead of left when I leave my house, walk up four blocks, then turn left and go half a mile, I'll get to a large grocery store, an outpost of a large multi-state chain.

I think I will perhaps not worry too much about "food deserts".

jaed said...

I think that the only reliable way to change behavior is to get out of the way and let nature apply the kind of pain that it naturally dishes out to people who make stupid choices.

If someone is told lifelong, by everyone from doctors to the teachers in health class to the food columnists in the magazine, that the way to health is to avoid salt, restrict protein ("Americans eat too much protein!"), and severely restrict fat, and that if they weigh too much, the solution is calorie restriction for a period of time...

...and they follow this advice, and eat meals of pasta and rice and beans, and snack on low-sodium pretzels and diet soda...

...then if they have the inherited propensity for insulin resistance, they are likely to have serious blood sugar issues by middle age or earlier.

Have they really been "stupid"? Or only in the sense that "You were stupid... you trusted us"?

This does get to a problem in medicine and the food issue discussed here: compliance.

Indeed. If only all those insulin-resistant people were compliant with medical demands to get most of their sustenance from starch and sugar! If they got any more compliant they'd be dropping like flies.

Of course, this brings up another problem with the nudge concept: what if you're actually nudging people off a cliff?

Rusty said...

North Korea is a food desert.
So is Cuba.