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).