Say what you will about the Chinese, but they know how to make wholesale changes, and sometimes those changes are inarguably for the good. As noted in an editorial in The Lancet last week, the life span of the average person in China in 1950 was 40 years; by 2011 it was around 76. (The average life span in the United States in 2011 was 79.)Yes, that must be it, since nothing else whatsoever has changed in China in that time period. By the way, his own source does not support his claim of causation. Also, another Lancet article paints a more complicated and less fawning picture of public health in China and includes the minor detail that "Mao killed many more people than his medicine saved."
The causes of this near doubling of life span are no secret: China has developed public health programs that have reduced communicable diseases to a manageable level.
Having given airtight proof of the success of Chinese public health, Bittman shifts to Mexico and draws the following lesson:
With a staggering 70 percent of our adult population overweight or obese, the United States was until recently the world’s leader in this unenviable race. Recently, Mexico (71.3 percent), took our place. (In China, the combined obesity-overweight rate is hovering at under 30 percent, still frightening.) Yet Mexico, which many Americans and Europeans haughtily consider primitive, was the first major nation in the world to institute significant soda and junk food taxes. That law went into effect early this year, and the results are already positive: Sales of soda are slipping.I need a decoder ring to determine when tax disincentives work and when they are just a right-wing myth.
If we know how to diminish needless human suffering and mortality, why would we not? As Mexico has shown, it’s the responsibility of government to protect its population from hyper-processed food.When government intervenes in people's choices over their own bodies, especially "to diminish needless human suffering and mortality," what can possibly go wrong?