The government directly gives (mostly poor) school children unhealthy food five days a week. Until the government stops doing this, it is promoting childhood obesity, and more intervention into the obesity issue from an organization that directly promotes obesity in children would be an unmitigated disaster. If the government were to provide healthful school lunches instead of the usual pizza and fries, child obesity would drop dramatically.
Also, the government subsidizes corn, and this cheap corn has been used to make all kinds of unhealthy products. Additionally, the government made being corn fed a requirement for grade A beef. Grass fed beef, unless the rules have been changed recently, cannot be grade A merely because it is grass-fed, and better for you. These unhealthy corn products are cheaper than their natural counterparts precisely because of government intervention. If the government were to end food subsides, poor people could more realistically buy natural foods.
The Soviet Union collapsed largely because it was so ideology-driven that when practical demands demanded they abandon principles of the ideology the regime collapsed. China has somehow been able to continue calling itself communist and getting away with it in spite of basically doing the same.
The point is the United States is a lot more like the Soviet Union than we realize. There's so much emphasis on "capitalism". How about "what ever works but with due consideration of all relevant consequencesism?"
The important thing isn't whether solutions are market-based or government-based. Do they work? Do they seem like they will work? What consequences will or may arise from the policy?
In this case I think they should put higher taxes on junk food. Ban? Obviously not. Even young children should occassionally enjoy some candy or some McDonald's, but NOT as much as has become typical in our culture.
That being said a tax alone won't cut it. Educational programs to stress the importance of health and even child services intervention if parents are feeding their kids wrong(but a thorough evaluation, to determine if it's even the parents' fault as if the kid is older it might not be, the kid could just be making bad decisions about what to eat and the parents keep hassling and trying to get their kid to change), and they should be understanding, the parents aren't trying to abuse or neglect their children they're just stuck in antiquated consumption habits.
Modern American society is, as the late George Carlin put it, "obsessed with consumption". With our market wholly dependent on consumption, the obesity rate is sure to rise without any government intervention. Though I am against most government intrusion, this is one acceptation I will make. With many annalists saying that this generation will live shorter than the last due to obesity related diseases, it may be time for government to take action.
I'm afraid even with intervention it will be impossible anyway. According to some prognosis half of adults will became obessed in next twenty years. Maybe it won't be so bad, but to my opinion rate of obessity will grow for next 20-30 years in US and worldwide, despite the counter-measures.
People will eat what they want to eat, and "Fast Food" is cheap, fast, and widely available. (The same applies to junk food). Also, as pretty much everyone already knows, big chains like McDonalds aren't going to make the whole menu healthier without someone big (like the government) calling them out on it, and promising big action if they don't.
I do not think that the US is able to drop this rate because children will be soo influenced by the fast food joint everywhere and its very hard for little children to say no to a burger or any type of junk food if all they are surrounded with is junk food. I mean think about it everyday most people see some sort of junk food advertisement and plus its really hard to go driving around now a days and not see a fast food/junk food joint.
If the government is needed to force parents to wake up and take care of their children, then it is time government got involved in who can have children. Every time a couple gets pregnant they must take the bus downtown, jostle around with all the other people in the courthouse, and go to the 13th floor for their testing. It will be a parenting IQ test. Is it okay to feed your child until they are about to explode. Yes? Red stamp, next.
The government has been able to reduce the number of cigarette smokers by adding a hefty tax to cigarette cartons. It's working. And by all means, if the U.S. Government can drop the childhood obesity rate by at least 5% by meddling in the free markets - please do it! The current free market is making Americans poorer anyway! Of course Americans need to start taking an active interest in their own health! Being careless kills.
If you are a purveyor of fast food you want to sell as much of it as possible: your primary responsibility is to make as much money as possible for your shareholders, not to protect your customers’ health.
Obese children are good customers and will make good customers when they grow up to be obese adults and the fast food merchants are rubbing their hands in greedy anticipation of getting their grubby hands on their money.