Germans hesitate to join nanny parade

by Walter Olson on June 1, 2007

The German government, like others around the world, is being pressed by public health specialists to get into the business of reshaping citizens’ diets and hectoring the populace over its indulgent eating habits. However, reports The Scotsman, there are some distinctive obstacles to this happening, even aside from Chancellor Angela Merkel’s fondness for baking a cake at home every weekend:

…the legacy of Germany’s Nazi past is forcing the Bundesregierung, or federal government, to forget TV adverts giving millions advice on avoiding fatty foods and taking exercise.

The government is banned from buying advertising space on TV by the country’s own constitution, which was framed in the wake of the Second World War. Those who drew up the laws remembered how the Nazis were masters of using the cinema for propaganda and feared giving any government the same kind of power. They were also nervous that governments might use advertising leverage to put pressure on broadcasters.

One insider quipped: “The last time we had a non-smoking vegetarian who wanted to tell us what to do, it wasn’t a happy experience.”

(Murdo MacLeod, “German fatties fear the wurst”, The Scotsman, May 13).

{ 1 comment }

1 Justinian Lane 06.02.07 at 10:27 pm

We see commercials reminding us to buckle up when we drive, to buy smoke alarms, and telling us how bad it is to drink while we’re pregnant.

So what’s wrong with the government encouraging us to eat heathier? Fatty foods, lots of red meat, and sugary products are bad for us, and there’s nothing wrong with the government telling us so. Especially in the case of a country that pays for the medical bills of the indulgent overeaters.

And this isn’t coming from some vegan nut case. My diet is a study in red meat, bacon, fried foods, and cheese. The day my country tells me I *can’t* eat a steak is the day I’m joining a militia. But if it wants to tell me I shouldn’t, what’s the big deal?

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