To Give Up Candy

There are still a lot of empty jungle gyms out there.

I spent my early morning time this morning like I do probably two or three days out of the week: reading Reason Magazine. The last thing I want to do after this post is to get into a political argument with people who are kind enough to read my blog, so let me say right now that that’s not what I’m after. However, the article I’m writing in response to has political undertones, so I want you, dear reader, to take a deep breath and prepare yourself for what I’m about to say.

I’m a Libertarian.

Gasp! Yep, politically I’m socially liberal and fiscally conservative, to wrap up my views in a nutshell. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about right now. I say that I’m a Libertarian to preface my distaste for almost everyone in Washington, and their agendas. I can’t even start to describe how many deep political issues I disagree with on this blog. We’d be here forever. So I’m going to get into something a little lighter: Michelle Obama’s war on Snickers. Specifically, King-Sized Snickers.

It’s all part of her Let’s Move! Program, which I think is a very bad program with very good intentions. Let’s just think critically here for a moment, shall we? Where did you hear about Let’s Move!? Where do you get ‘news’ about Michelle Obama? Probably not at the gym. You are hearing about this on the computer, or on the third hour of the Today Show, and your kids are hearing about it on Nickelodeon. How many Americans are going to read a blog about the program, or see a special about it on TV, and immediately jump to their feet, exclaiming “yes! Exactly, now I see! I’m sitting here on my couch when really I should be moving! And eating carrots! And definitely putting down the King-Sized Snickers bar!”? I’m going to give you a hint: none. Obama’s short Let’s Move! message is a passing story on a vapid news variety show, and you’ll forget about it in three minutes when the Kardashian interview airs. Kids seeing it on a commercial on Nickelodeon? I’ll just let you know right now: the impact on them is probably zero, other than some anger at the fact that it’s cutting into Dora time.

It’s the same concept behind The Biggest Loser. Sure, the people on the TV show are making positive changes to their lives, but everyone else in America is sitting on their couch for two hours, watching them sweat with a bag of potato chips handy.

We spend more money in America on fitness and diet programs, supplements, and devices than anywhere else in the world, and the result is that we’re getting fatter and fatter by the minute. A program called “Let’s Move!” sponsored by someone in Washington DC is not going to cure this problem.

And what’s really not going to solve obesity? Banning King-Sized Snickers bars. Yes, it’s true that you’re going to cut out a lot of calories if you, say, switch from your daily King-Sized Snickers to daily regular sized Snickers. But where does that leave you? Still addicted to sugar. If someone really eats that much Snickers, what are the rest of their eating habits like? Exercise habits? Do you see where I’m headed with this?

The other thing that bothers me about the Let’s Move program is that it is someone else telling you that you cannot do things for yourself. First, you’re too stupid to know that you have bad eating habits or that you don’t exercise enough; and second, you’re too stupid to care; and third, you’re too stupid to figure out how to replace those bad habits with good ones. And if you dare to say, “yeah, but I’m fat and happy,” then I’m going to come into your life and make you change. Because it’s imperative to this country that no one be fat.

Listen, I get that obesity can cause disease and shorten life span. Those are very bad things. But if I’m CEO of Mars, who makes Snickers, I’ve got news for you: It’s not my fault. It’s yours. If you are obese because you eat too many Snickers, that’s your fault. It is up to you to put down the Snickers bar. It is not, nor should it ever be, up to the government, Michelle Obama, or anyone else.

I want to note that there are reasons for obesity other than simply eating too much. There is a genetic factor, so some people simply have bad genes. There are also all kinds of medications that completely kill your metabolism. There are disorders such as hypothyroidism, Cushing’s Syndrome, and even depression, that can contribute heavily. For people with these obesity factors, putting down the Snickers bar probably has little to do with getting to a normal weight.

On the other hand, I personally am someone who is not obese. I am a pretty average weight for my height. I have had to watch what I eat before, and I do that because I know that my health is my responsibility. But when I want to celebrate a special event, or maybe just enjoy a giant log of sugar, I want to be free to do it with a King-Sized Snickers. And I’m kind of peeved at Michelle Obama for putting pressure on Mars to eliminate that option for me. It’s a small loss of freedom, but it is a loss of freedom nevertheless.

What do you think about the Let’s Move! program? Have you ever participated in one of the initiatives? What’s your take on the obesity ‘epidemic’ in America?


8 thoughts on “To Give Up Candy

  1. Well…your point of view on things political, I must say…could well be genetic! …great article, I ought to just plagiarize it and stick it on mine…I won’t…but I would like to…thanks for the enjoyable read!

  2. grassguydave says:

    I took the let’s move campaign to this extreme. I joined a local pole dancing for exercise class, and broke the pole, got kicked out of class for staring at the trannies, got depressed, and had to hit the QT on the way home for a 52 OZ Coke, a creme filled chocolate glazed, and absolutely, a King ding-a-ling sized Snickers!

    I like the idea of leaving the choice up to the individual, but along with that has to come the individual paying for the consequences. These days, we leave the choice up to the individual, but if the individual decides to pack on the pounds in an exponential manner, I can’t decide not to pay his disability due to his inability to push away from the table. “Were in a tight spot” says George Clooney! I am confident that when your and my generation is running things, they will have no choice other than to make sure the cart is preceded by donkey instead of the tail wagging the dog (you owe me a dollar for the number of metaphors in my mix).

    • Agreed, I strongly dislike the fact that I can’t choose not to pay disability for people who eat themselves into comas…or whatever. I have views on that, too, but I’ll save it for another post 🙂

  3. Mar says:

    There is a long and rich history of first ladies having social causes–just google first lady causes–I haven’t seen anyone trying to outlaw jumbo-sized candy bars–did I miss something? People like to follow leaders, they lilke to be part of something bigger than themselves. At least this cause will help you avoid paying “disability for people who eat themselves into comas.” Since First Ladies usually choose a cause, and you are libertarian, isn’t making the public and business aware of this issue better than legislating away the giant snickers bar? President Kennedy had a similar interest–because of him, we grade-school kids started having PE five days a week since he promoted physcial fitness.

    • Mar says:

      Am I allowed to reply to myself? Anyway, the Mars company has a huge budget (which I do not begrudge) which they can use to advertise and remind us how much happier we would feel if we had a snickers bar right now, so, a little bit of counter advertising (however lame) to remind us how good we will feel if we exercise might not be so bad. I say, eh, I’d rather hear about getting fit than the new white house china.

      • Ha, Margret, I was waiting for your reply! First, yes you can totally reply to yourself. I really respect your political views since they’re so well thought out. And like I said, I think the Let’s Move! program has some really good intentions. It’s always a good thing to educate kids about what’s healthy and what’s not, since candy, TV and gaming companies will bombard them with advertisements all their lives. Maybe I’m just bitter because I love Snickers?

  4. Mar says:

    Thank you for being so kind–I worried that I broke some blog-rule I didn’t know about by not agreeing with you. Last night after I posted, I kept remembering Nancy Reagan’s campaign was “Just say NO to drugs!” Ask your parents if they remember that one–ha! I also was thinking that as an African-American, Michelle Obama might reach some folks at higher risk better than any other first lady has been able to, so go for it! Just sent Abbey your blog address, she asked for it. 🙂

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