With calls to ban milkshakes, is an obsession with ‘public health’ harmful to our personal wellbeing?
Daniel Pryor, head of programmes at the Adam Smith Institute, says YES.
Should we ban sugar, spice, and all things nice? The lobby group Action On Sugar thinks so. Its advocates aren’t content to simply jail purveyors of so-called “freakshakes” (more commonly known as “desserts”) – their proposals would make a medium McDonald’s chocolate milkshake illegal too.
Adults are best placed to judge for themselves if the benefits of drinking a milkshake outweigh the costs, and parents know what’s best for their kids. If busybodies really must indulge their (frankly unhealthy) obsession with other people’s waistlines and teeth, they should focus on education and expanding consumer choice.
The real takeaway from this story is more confirmation that the public health “slippery slope” is real. It follows an ineffective, regressive sugar tax and a government consultation on mandatory calorie labelling that would wreck small businesses and harm young people with eating disorders.
One can only hope that the milkshake ban brings all the liberals to the yard, and they’re like, enough is enough.
Caroline Cerny, alliance lead at the Obesity Health Alliance, says NO.
In 1854, a deadly outbreak of cholera killed over 600 people in London. After investigating this public health crisis, it was discovered that a contaminated water pump was to blame.
This led to the improved sanitation facilities, saving countless lives. Ever since, public health interventions have hugely enhanced the quality of people’s lives – from the widespread availability of vaccines, to the introduction of seatbelts and the smoking ban.
Today’s children are growing up in obesogenic environments. High streets are littered with fast-food outlets serving calorie-laden products like “freakshakes” containing 35 teaspoons of sugar. Children are bombarded with junk food adverts while they watch TV, and families on a budget are tempted by promotions on unhealthy products.
Obesity is a growing public health crisis. When industry doesn’t act responsibly, government action is needed. Far from harmful, public health interventions like the childhood obesity plan are in fact crucial for securing greater health and wellbeing for all.