Posts tagged as:

obesity

Food and farm roundup

by Walter Olson on April 10, 2013

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on March 19, 2013

  • If you thought “finger in chili” was bad, meet the Utah couple arrested on charges of planting razor blade shards in doughnuts and swallowing some [KSL, Daily Mail]
  • My talk a few weeks ago as part of Cato Institute panel on nanny state [YouTube, Bruce Majors]
  • New Reason-RUPE public opinion survey finds public broadly opposed to food and drink bans [Sullum]
  • Feds’ bad advice on polyunsaturated fat: more damaging than any mass tort in sight? [David Oliver] More: Hans Bader.
  • Coroner blames woman’s death on Coca-Cola addiction [TV NZ] Monster Beverage: natural causes, not caffeine toxicity, killed Maryland teen [Reuters, NYT, earlier] More: Jacob Sullum.
  • Oh, CSPI, thou contradictest thyself [Baylen Linnekin; more from him on parents' and kids' food choices quoting me, NYC soda ban]
  • “Bloomberg limits seder portions” [Purim spoof, New York Jewish Week]
  • Kelly Brownell, guru of obesity-reduction-through-coercion formerly based at Yale, named dean of public policy school at Duke;
  • “A Knife, a Walmart Birthday Cake and a Frenzy of Overreaction” [Free-Range Kids] Mardi Gras perennial: can you buy king cake with baby figurine already in it? [same, earlier]
  • Now they tell us: NYT book review not conspicuously enthusiastic about Michael Moss anti-food-biz book hyped to the rafters in NYT magazine three weeks earlier [Ira Stoll, SmarterTimes, our take]

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My new op-ed at the Daily Caller is their “most shared” this morning. Excerpt:

On Monday, Judge Tingling struck down the soda ban in a sweeping opinion that does everything but hand Mayor Poppins his umbrella and carpetbag. This wasn’t just a temporary restraining order putting the regulation on hold for a few weeks. The judge struck down the ban permanently both on the merits (“fraught with arbitrary and capricious consequences”) and as overstepping the rightful legal powers of the New York City Department of Health…

[For] the mayor and his public health crew… the biggest reproach in the decision isn’t in being found to have gotten the facts wrong, it’s being found to have violated the law.

And if anyone is expected to know and play by the rules, it’s a nanny.

Michael Grynbaum, New York Times:

[Bloomberg's] administration seemed caught off guard by the decision. Before the judge ruled, the mayor had called for the soda limits to be adopted by cities around the globe; he now faces the possibility that one of his most cherished endeavors will not come to fruition before he leaves office, if ever. …

The measure was already broadly unpopular: In a New York Times poll conducted last August, 60 percent of city residents said it was a bad idea for the Bloomberg administration to pass the limits…

Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School, said city laws deemed “arbitrary and capricious” had frequently been reinstated upon appeal.

The Times also profiles Judge Tingling and reports on reactions by New Yorkers in the street (not favorable toward the ban). Coverage from yesterday, including my podcast with Cato’s Caleb Brown, here. NYU’s Rick Hills, as often happens, takes a different view. (& Point of Law; and more) Update: as of March 15 my Daily Caller piece has been recommended on Facebook 3,700 times, surely a record for me.

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In a sweeping decision, trial court judge Milton Tingling has struck down the ban on sugary drinks decreed by the New York City Department of Health, which had been scheduled to go into effect tomorrow. I discuss the ruling in a Cato podcast above. I’m also quoted by Jillian Kay Melchior at National Review Online:

It was a sweeping ruling, because the judge said not only was the ban arbitrary and capricious, but it also went beyond the public-health agency’s powers under the statute. It meant that, even if Bloomberg went back and got a better factual justification for it, he had no legal right to do it. The agency just plain lacked the power. It means that the powers that public-health agencies claim because of emergency dangers like a raging epidemic — they don’t get to rule by dictate about other elements of our life that are not emergencies.

Other coverage: New York Post, CBS New York, Moin Yahya, David Henderson. As the law’s effective date approached, city residents were learning more about its unpleasant effects on such everyday activities as ordering beverages to split with pizza delivery, mixers at nightclubs, table pitchers to serve kids’ birthday parties, and, most recently, coffee, the subject of a virally famous poster from the local Dunkin’ Donuts operation.

P.S. And now I’ve got a Daily Caller piece out on the decision. See follow-up post here.

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A press release from George Washington University Prof. John Banzhaf describes his latest stunt as follows: “Undergrads Required To Lobby For Obama Policy.” In this case, it’s more for a policy identified with Michael Bloomberg — limits on the size of sweetened drinks — which students were asked to promote in letters to their own lawmakers. I’ve got a write-up at Cato at Liberty, where I list some of the other occasions on which Overlawyered readers have met the gadfly professor. (& Katherine Mangu-Ward, Center for Consumer Freedom) Update: many reactions, including another press release from Prof. Banzhaf.

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“That is quite a correction in today’s Times to Mark Bittman’s column the other day about sugar and diabetes,” notes Ira Stoll. Bittman’s column began with the striking opener “Sugar is indeed toxic” and went on to promote a far-reaching regulatory crackdown on sweetened foods. But it soon came under sustained attack from various commentators (more) for misstating recent findings about the health effects of sugar in the diet; it’s true that sugar intake tends to cause obesity and obesity itself causes diabetes, but it’s a separate, unresolved question whether sugar by itself instigates diabetes through some mechanism of action not common to other highly caloric foods.

Here is the correction:

Mark Bittman’s column on Thursday incorrectly described findings from a recent epidemiological study of the relationship of sugar consumption to diabetes. The study found that increased sugar in a population’s food supply was linked to higher rates of diabetes — independent of obesity rates — but stopped short of stating that sugar caused diabetes. It did not find that “obesity doesn’t cause diabetes: sugar does.” Obesity is, in fact, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, as the study noted.

On Sunday the New York Times published a long, breathless screed attacking food company marketing (“Inside the hyper-engineered, savagely marketed, addiction-creating battle for ‘stomach share.’”) The article itself furnishes an example of empty, hype-fueled journalistic calories, or so I suggest in a new op-ed at the Daily Caller.

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At Duke on Friday

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2013

On Friday at Duke Law School, the Duke Forum for Law and Social Change is giving its annual symposium, this year’s subject being legal approaches to obesity prevention. The organizers have kindly invited me to participate in a late morning panel, where my views are likely to differ from those of the other participants; details here.

If you’d like to book me to speak at your own event or campus, contact me directly at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com, through the Cato Institute’s Events staff, or, if you’re associated with a Federalist Society chapter, through the Society’s national office.

Food roundup

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2013

  • New thinner-isn’t-healthier study should give pause [Paul Campos, NYT]
  • Inspectors order Minnesota soda shop to yank candy cigarettes, bubble gum cigars [Daily Caller]
  • Cleveland might have its own version of Pike Place or Reading Terminal Market, if not for… [Nick Gillespie]
  • Regulators took it down: “San Francisco’s Libertarian Food Market Is Closing” [Baylen Linnekin]
  • How brutal is vegetarianism to animals? [Mike Archer via Tyler Cowen]
  • Crazy: S.F. mulls zoning ban on new restaurants to protect existing ones [Linnekin] How Chicago suppresses food trucks [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • Federal calorie labeling rules will burden restaurants [Wash. Times]

Asset unfreeze

by Walter Olson on January 3, 2013

Probably a parody: New York mayor announces ice cream buyback program [Alex Tabarrok]

Federal fat tax?

by Walter Olson on November 20, 2012

Taking advantage of the media bubble arising from the announced shutdown of Hostess snack-cake operations, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) is back with a bill proposing to deny the deduction as ordinary business expenses of money spent advertising kids’ snacks. Kay Bell and Kelly Phillips Erb apply deserved ridicule (via Paul Caron/TaxProf).

Plus: Baylen Linnekin on Denmark’s planned repeal of a pioneering fat tax (earlier) and the rejection by voters in two California cities of soda taxes.

Discrimination law roundup

by Walter Olson on November 20, 2012

  • In DC today? I’ll be commenting at Cato on new Russell Nieli book on affirmative action [details]
  • EEOC continues to pressure employers over use of criminal background checks in hiring process [Hans Bader, Daniel Schwartz, Jon Hyman, earlier]
  • Bill in Congress would require employers to make ADA-like accommodation for pregnancy/childbirth [Hyman]
  • “Religious freedom and the nondiscrimination norm” [Rick Garnett, Prawfs] What is supposed to make discrimination so tempting, anyway? [Bryan Caplan, EconLib]
  • Lawsuit alleges that group car rental discount for members of gay group constitutes unlawful discrimination against straights [Volokh]
  • Complainants argue in Strasbourg that UK failure to more fully accommodate Christians violates Euro human rights law [Telegraph]
  • Push for ADA coverage of obesity raises controversy [Christina Wilkie, HuffPo]

Food roundup

by Walter Olson on November 16, 2012

  • Misguided USDA regs are shuttering much-admired (and safe) artisanal Denver salumeria [Baylen Linnekin]
  • “If you’re a woman and you’ve had an average of more than one drink a day, the [CDC] considers you a ‘heavy drinker.’” [Nicole Ciandella, CEI]
  • Admitting failure of idea, Denmark prepares to repeal pioneering “fat tax” [BBC] Katherine Pratt, “A Critique of Anti-Obesity Soda Taxes and Food Taxes Today in New Zealand” [TaxProf]
  • Less cooking from scratch, more empty calories because of new school lunch regs? [Lunch Tray]
  • Once we accept premise that our weight is government’s business, NYC soda ban will be just the start [Jacob Sullum] Does it go beyond legal authority of Gotham board of health? [same] Now it’s the D.C. council catching the ban-big-soft-drinks bug [WTOP]
  • Federal prosecutors’ ADA campaign vs. restaurants: not just NYC, Twin Cities too [Bagenstos, earlier]
  • Why is research and journalism on the public health aspects of nutrition so bad? [Linnekin] Speaking of which… [same] No one’s appointed Mark Bittman national food commissar, and aren’t we glad for that [Tyler Cowen] More on that [David Oliver, beginning a new series of posts on anti-food litigation]

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The school lunch program flop

by Walter Olson on September 26, 2012

One of the Obama administration’s signature federal initiatives has been the First Lady’s campaign for a redesigned federal school lunch program, with more centralized prescription from Washington aimed at healthier and more natural fare. Now the results are beginning to come in, and they aren’t pretty, as Baylen Linnekin documents: skimpy calorie counts that leave energy-burning athletes desperately hungry, food wastage as unpalatable fruit gets tossed into garbage bins, contraband chocolate syrup aimed at making skim milk palatable, and in Wisconsin mass student boycotts of food that’s “worse tasting, smaller sized and higher priced.” More: Patrick Richardson/PJ Media, Althouse. Earlier here (new rules discourage scratch-cooking), here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, etc. More: “This year, we’ll be hungry by 2:00…. We would eat our pencils.” [Caroline May, Daily Caller]

September 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 19, 2012

  • “Ohio Man Cites Obesity as Reason to Delay Execution” [WSJ Law Blog]
  • West Hollywood bans sale of fur, no bonfires on the beach, and a thousand other California bans [New York Times]
  • “Volunteers sued for ‘civil conspiracy’ for planning an open rival to WikiTravel” [Gyrovague]
  • Practice of check-rounding at some Chipotles allows class action lawyers to put in their two cents [Ted at PoL]
  • Daniel Fisher on business cases in the upcoming Supreme Court term [Forbes]
  • In Bond v. U.S., coming back like a boomerang from an earlier ruling, Supreme Court may at last have to resolve whether the federal government can expand its constitutional powers just by signing on to treaties [Ilya Shapiro and Trevor Burrus, Cato]
  • Law nerd’s heavy-breather: “50 Shades of Administrative Law” [LawProfBlawg]

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on September 11, 2012

  • Prop 37: Oakland Tribune thumbs down [editorial] “Natural” language a flashpoint [Glenn Lammi, WLF] Earlier here, here;
  • “Danish government may scrap its ‘fat tax’ after only one year because it simply doesn’t work” [Mark J. Perry, AEIdeas]
  • “Mouse in Mountain Dew saga comes to an end” [Madison County Record, earlier]
  • Food safety and local producers: “FDA Rules Won’t Work, Will Harm Small Farmers” [Ryan Young, CEI] “How Farmers’ Markets Dodged a Regulatory Bullet in Pennsylvania” [Baylen Linnekin, Reason]
  • “On the roads, on the cheese board… many Europeans now have more freedom than Americans.” [Mark Steyn]
  • Mayor Bloomberg extends his healthy-beverage solicitude to the youngest consumers [Steve Chapman]
  • In France, raw milk in vending machines [Mark Perry] FDA ban on interstate shipment of raw milk dates back to lawsuit by Public Citizen’s Sidney Wolfe [Linnekin]

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Disabled rights roundup

by Walter Olson on August 8, 2012

  • Lawprof’s classic argument: you thought I was capable of going on a workplace rampage with a gun, and though that isn’t true, it means you perceived me as mentally disabled so when you fired me you broke the ADA [Above the Law, ABA Journal, NLJ]
  • “Fragrance-induced disabilities”: “The most frequent MCS [Multiple Chemical Sensitivity] accommodation involves implementing a fragrance-free workplace [or workzone] policy” [Katie Carder McCoy, Washington Workplace Law, earlier here, etc.]
  • Netflix seeks permission to appeal order in captioning accommodation case [NLJ, Social Media Law via Disabilities Law, earlier here, here and here]
  • EEOC presses harder on ADA coverage for obesity [PoL, earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • Disability groups seek class action: “ADA Suit Claims Wal-Mart Checkout Terminals Are Too High for Wheelchair Users” [ABA Journal, Recorder]
  • Crunch postponed until after election: “Despite delays, chair lifts coming to public pools” [NPR Morning Edition, earlier here, here, here, etc.] Punished for advocacy: disabled groups organize boycotts of “hotels whose leaders, they say, have participated in efforts to delay regulations.” [USA Today]
  • Disabled student sues St. Louis U. med school over failure to provide more time on tests [St. L. P-D]

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Food roundup

by Walter Olson on July 3, 2012

  • Why eating local isn’t necessarily good for the environment [Pierre Desrochers and Hiroko Shimizu, The Locavore's Dilemma via David Boaz/Cato, BoingBoing]
  • “Can Behavioral Economics Combat Obesity?” [Michael Marlow and Sherzod Abdukadirov, Cato Regulation mag, PDF] Get cranberry juice out of the schools. Must we? [Scott Shackford]
  • Portland might deem you a subsidy-worthy “food desert” even if you’re six blocks from a Safeway [City Journal]
  • “Policemen eying giant iced-coffee I bought near 96th and Broadway. I’m imagining a future of ‘stop and sip.’ ‘Is that sweetened, sir?’” [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • Crise de foie: California’s ban on livers of overfed fowl results in evasion, coinage of word “duckeasy” [Nancy Friedman]
  • In defense of policy entrepreneur Rick Berman [David Henderson]
  • The federal definition of macaroni [Ryan Young, CEI]
  • How food safety regulation can kill [Baylen Linneken, Reason] We’ve got a nice little town here, don’t try to grow food in it [same] And the prolific Linnekin is guest-blogging at Radley Balko’s along with Ken and Patrick from Popehat, Maggie McNeill, and Chattanooga libertarian editorialist Drew Johnson.

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