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Government Regulating Vending Machines →www.washingtonpost.com

"The Obama administration will ask Congress to improve childhood nutrition by ridding school vending machines of sugary snacks and drinks…" Does government have the right to tell you what you can and can't eat by eliminating your options?

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Does government have the right to tell you what you can and can’t eat by eliminating your options?

Let me ask one in response, does the government have the right to intercede in what is deemed a public health problem?

Does government have the right to tell you what you can and can’t eat by eliminating your options

I think it has the right to choose to not offer options to kids in publicly funded institutions. It isn’t saying they can’t bring them from home and it isn’t saying they can’t consume them at school. This is the government regulating what is offered at a government (or public) funded place. Lastly, the liberty of children is already limited by the government (truancy laws, alcohol age limits, smoking limits, etc). I mean, I am fairly sure that schools aren’t allowed to have cigarette vending machines in schools. (I realize the difference, but still feel the comparison is worth considering).

Of course, the government does regulate what we can and can’t eat through the FDA. But I don’t see this as the same thing at all, as per above.

I wonder if that blanket “schools” would include private schools. I doubt they could do anything there in this regard.

are you fat because you ate school lunch?

Nope. I am fat because I eat a lot of food and don’t exercise enough.

so what would regulating school food have to do with health? You said you just eat a lot of food and don’t exercise. Wouldn’t limiting the amount of food people eat and promoting health education and exercise seem to be best?

Ok. I thought this was a fly-by anon posting something ridiculous, so I answered too flippantly. Now that I realize there is a point your pursuing, let me answer the first question for real.

Personally, I am in whatever shape I am in because of my eating choices and exercise habits. That being said, I am 30 and have entered the phase of my life where personal choices are basically everything when it comes to health and have a level of maturity that allows me to weigh the outcomes of my decisions.

I do not believe children are able to make the same measured decisions about health choices that adults can make (not even all adults can really make those decisions, they just do and don’t think at all). Tell an eight-year-old they can have a Snickers or an apple, I think most would choose the candy. This is the same logic that goes into denying children the opportunity to smoke.

Schools have a specific purpose, that is to educate our children. What purpose do the vending machines have? Do you really hold the belief that it is to offer more choices to the children, or to increase revenue for the school/business behind the vending machine?

Wouldn’t limiting the amount of food people eat and promoting health education and exercise seem to be best?

I think this is what health and PE classes (at least used to) teach. With obesity still a problem, I don’t think that alone is going to cut it. With childhood obesity rising, I don’t think it is a great idea to offer more opportunities to children to spend money on junk food and soda at school. It isn’t like that is something that has been around forever. I didn’t have it in elementary, it started showing up near the end of junior high.

As for limiting the amount of food people eat… whoa. That is a little too much to tell the government to do. Promoting health education and exercise, good.

That being said, whenever I talk about government and schools, I pretty much agree with Brandon in that it should be local governments and school districts that are leading the ground swell on this. My only reservation is what about when it is in the schools’ financial interest to keep vending machines and not in the students health interest? Will parents really rise up against the elected leaders? I know that ideally they would, but I doubt it would happen in real life. If it did, it would probably only be in schools that served areas with high parent involvement which is not many at the current time.

As for limiting the amount of food people eat… whoa. That is a little too much to tell the government to do. Promoting health education and exercise, good.

You’re putting words in my mouth (incidentally it’s better than more food).

The federal gov’t needs to stay away from that which is reserved to the states to do as the states’ please…..

You’re putting words in my mouth (incidentally it’s better than more food).

I didn’t mean to do so. Good to know that is not what you meant.

The federal gov’t needs to stay away from that which is reserved to the states to do as the states’ please…

No problem from me on this sentiment. Local government/school districts should be spearheading this. At the same time, I think it is a good idea to regulate what is in school vending machines regardless of the source. School districts need to get on the ball.

With childhood obesity rising, I don’t think it is a great idea to offer more opportunities to children to spend money on junk food and soda at school.

So snack machines are the main cause of childhood obesity?

Like you said, it’s a personal choice. The parents have a personal choice to give their children money (too much if the children have extra to use on a vending machine) and also fail to teach the simple economics of “good choices” whether it be healthy eating (lessening their future healthcare costs) or spending a 300-400% mark-up on vending machine food.

So snack machines are the main cause of childhood obesity?

I didn’t mean to imply that (and I don’t think I did). I believe they don’t help the epidemic and are probably one facet of the problem. Poor access to healthy food and ignorance and apathy on the part of the populace is also a big factor.

also fail to teach the simple economics of “good choices” whether it be healthy eating (lessening their future healthcare costs) or spending a 300-400% mark-up on vending machine food.

My vending machines at work are actually cheaper than the grocery store, but that is beside the point. I think parents should be able to teach their children that without the schools giving the kids “pop quizzes” on the subject everyday at school. Why not let that be one place where they don’t have to make that decision. The is plenty of time after school for them to make bad choices if they want to.

I do not believe children are able to make the same measured decisions about health choices that adults can make

Some children can’t even reach the machine’s coin drop. Are we really talking anyone less than 8?

I do not believe children are able to make the same measured decisions about health choices that adults can make

Some children can’t even reach the machine’s coin drop. Are we really talking anyone less than 8?

We obviously don’t feel that 16 year olds are capable of making those “adult” level decisions either, as they can’t vote, drink or smoke, or even choose not to go to school (depends on state). Feel free to exchange 8 and 16 in my post. I think 16 year olds would largely still choose the Snickers.

I agree with what Jackson said about the government having the ability to decide what food, if any, it wants to provide in schools. That government, however, should be the school district. It’s their responsibility – and if they don’t do a good job, it’s the parents that should put pressure on them to change.

I can see how the federal government might feel pressure to get involved, however, if it decides to tie its success to the individual eating choices of its citizens.

Instead of this, I think the government’s involvement (both at the federal and local level) should center on education. So, a campaign promoting organic food and water (as opposed to fast food and soft drinks) would be fine, but things like subsidizing the organic farmers, taxing fast food or sugar, outlawing trans fats – or even forcing companies to list calorie counts1 – wouldn’t.

This way the responsibility for (and the influence of) an individual’s health decisions rest where they should: on the individual first and on his/her family second.


1 I used to be on-board with the calorie count thing, but I like it less and less the more I think about it. Not only does it take responsibility from the consumer, it provides a false indication of what it takes to be healthy. (It’s the toxin and nutrient content that matters.)

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