Scare tactics don’t mix well with food

Published May 12, 2018 at 4:00pm

Chile -- one of many nations with a swelling obesity rate -- is trying to scare people thin.

It has slapped black stop-sign-shaped warning labels on high-calorie or high-fat treats like cookies, chips, salad dressings and cereals. Caution! Fat and calories ahead! It has banned Tony the Tiger -- yes, Tony the Grrrrr-eat! -- from the box front, lest children be unduly swayed to stuff themselves with Frosted Flakes. Also banished is Cheetos’ Chester Cheetah.

Officials in Mexico and Canada are discussing similar warning labels, The New York Times reports. The Trump administration seeks to quash efforts to force American manufacturers to stick similar warning labels on sugar-filled drinks and fat-laden packaged foods.

The warning labels? The U.S. argues persuasively that such labels “inappropriately” suggest that a “hazard” exists from eating such foods. Such labels miss the point: The obesity crisis in this country and elsewhere isn’t caused by high-calorie, high-fat, high-sugar food. It is caused by people eating too much of those foods.

Yes, we’re all for overweight Americans shedding pounds. It’s good for their health. But scare tactics like warning labels on food are a huge Super-Nanny-State overreach.

This is how the market works best. Consumers demand healthier products; companies respond.