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On Obesity: Subsidizing Health with Veggie Vouchers

Democratic institutions promote the health of individuals in a number of ways, beginning with payments to teachers of "physical education" in our elementary schools. But concerns about obesity in the population have given rise to a new subsidy proposal. A bill in Britain's Parliament attacks what MP Boris Johnson describes as the "fatness epidemic," by issuing veggie vouchers. MP Johnson doesn't buy it:

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The fatness epidemic is not something that can only be "cured" by the intervention of doctors or government. The cause of the epidemic lies entirely in our own volition.

This is how the fatness epidemic spreads. You go to the fridge; you take out that Onken biopot yogurt, with the little barley grains to make it seem somehow more dietetic; you eat, and you repeat. The cause of the fatness epidemic is not society, or poverty, or government failure. It is millions of fatties deciding after lunch that they might just have room for an extra large Kit Kat.

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There is an economic case for some subsidies, but the veggie voucher reaches a new level of absurdity. Of the welfare recipients who would get veggie vouchers, some would not change their habits one iota (they'd continue to eat plenty of veggies along with everything else), some will add the biopot yogurt to their diet with a voucher and use cash for their Kit Kat bar, and others will find a way to convert their voucher into the Kit Kat. Veggie vouchers are silly policy. Don't government ministers have anything serious to do?

Johnson's take on the issue is both amusing (he admits to a fondness for Kit Kats) and accurate. Recommended reading: Kit Kats & Veggie Vouchers